After all, it’s just one of those strange cosmic coincidences, the kind we all experience at one time or another.
Memories of a wild child, defined by a heartbeat in time.
I had planned to slot it into the mental file marked “Well, all-rightie then” and leave it at that.
But the cosmos wouldn’t allow me to ignore it. The morning after I’d made my decision to let it slide, that song, the one I’m talking about, by Wild Cherry, came on the radio. Yup. Just like that, coincidence was compounded by coincidence, forcing me to pay attention.
So here’s my story, for what it’s worth…
As many of my readers know, I was emancipated (left home) at the age of fifteen.
In those days, the local pubs were not overly cautious about serving liquor to minors. Most didn’t ask for ID, and didn’t look too closely if it was flashed in front of them.
On or near my 16th birthday, my then fiancé and a group of friends took me out to the El Mocambo.
(At least I believe it was my 16th birthday. I’ve tried to support my memory by fact-checking, but have had no luck. So let’s go with my memory for now, until it’s proven wrong…)
In the El Mo of my memory, that Spring night, a band I cannot recall was playing hits by Wild Cherry. I remember being thrilled when they launched into “Play That Funky Music (White Boy)”, which was an epic smash at the time.
And there was dancing, and singing…
So there was yours truly, drinking underage with my soon-to-be first husband and grooving to that funky music with a packed house.
(As you read on, you’ll see what a tribute it is to the genius and staying power of Rob Parissi and Wild Cherry, the fact they’ve been able to touch our lives for so very long…)
Fast forward 40 years.
Last weekend, on Feb. 6, my husband Alex and I got all poshed up for a gala dinner/dance event at the Liberty Grand, hosted by Ellis Don and the TCA.
The food and company were stellar, as was the wine.
Then came the after-dinner dancing. Alex and I made our way to the floor.
When what to my wondering ears should appear, but that same old song?
Yup, that’s right. Hubby and I found ourselves “grooving to the music”, as the event’s band revved up with “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry.
And I couldn’t help but think: All right, now I know I’ve come full circle. If I die tonight, I’ll know I’ve lived, and on my own terms, always feeling the beat of life.
I don’t know why it struck me this way. Maybe it’s because that night 40 years ago was a defining one for me, and the memory of it stands in sharp contrast to my older, more mellow self.
Maybe it’s because, under the mellow, and under the wisdom, there still resides, deep in my soul, the rebel, the individualist, the renegade who will not say uncle to life.
Somewhere in my soul that wild child rocks on…
FOOTNOTE: When I was researching for this story, I had originally mistakenly thought the El Mo had actually featured the band Wild Cherry that night.
Thanks to the kind help of Rob Parissi, band leader and songwriter, I was able to establish they never did play in Toronto.
Believe me, I wish they had!
Also, I credit the crazy energy of bands like this for the wonderful musical talent and love our two sons have been able to nurture in their lives.