My memory is an unreliable function of my mind. Fragments exist. Sometimes the fragments piece together into a story, but I never really know if the story is true, you know, in a historical, documentary way.
I've come to realize that feelings and emotions drive my memories. I retain certain feelings about things in the past and in my stories about these past events, I tend to conform the memory and the story to the feeling.
So, when I think back to things that happened, say, when I was in my late teens or when I just turned twenty, and when many of my most fun experiences were accompanied by alcohol, I'm not really sure what actually happened, what could be objectively documented, I only know what stories pop up in my head and that I profoundly enjoy them.
I'll digress for a moment: during the Kellogg High School All-Class reunion a month ago, a member of the class of 1969 was really happy to see me, in the bar he runs, and said something like, "Billy! Billy Woolum! God Damn it's good to see you!" He looked at Scott and Don and Ed and continued, "You know when the last time I saw you was?" I knew what story was coming. He told it the last time I saw him. "Your old man, Pert, saw me the night before I was getting married in 1988, and he was wearing a tie, and that fat old one eyed son of a bitch took his tie off, he took it off! So I'd have a tie for my wedding. God damn....I'll never forget it."
The story's true, but it didn't happen the last time I saw this old friend. The last time I saw him was at his bar about seven years ago when he told the same story about the last time he'd seen me.
But it doesn't matter.
The facts don't matter.
What matters is that he loved my dad for giving him the very tie off his neck at the Inland Lounge, at Chilcott's, on McKinley Avenue in Kellogg, Idaho the night before his wedding and, as far as I'm concerned, next time I see him, if he wants to say, "You know what happened the last time I saw you" and tell the story again, that's great.
This is all to say, these great memories of a Vancouver, BC radio station, CFUN pop up in my head a lot.
It must have been one of those super AM stations that blasted a signal with over 50, 000 watts or something, because late at night, in and around Kellogg, we could pick up CFUN from Vancouver on our car radios while driving the back roads of Shoshone County drinking Lucky Lager beers and rocking out.
My friend Scott turned me on to CFUN and did a great imitation of the CFUN's tagline:
ALLLLL Hit Music.
He'd do it all the time, in a rock growl: CFUN: ALLLLL Hit Music.
I swear, every song CFUN played either was great or sounded great while we were DUI driving and drinking more beer. CFUN never played a bad song. I swear.
The song CFUN seemed to always play at just the right time, just when we were ready to throw back our heads, make an oral fuzzy guitar sound, and say, "Yeeeaaahhh" was Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water."
Last night I was listening to my Deep Purple station on Pandora and "Smoke on the Water" came on and suddenly I was back in Shoshone County as it turned into Kootenai County, somewhere near the Cataldo flats, the interior of Scott's rig, whichever one, talking and laughing in a yeasty cloud of Lucky Lager vapors, and last night I nearly cried thinking back to how much I loved the first fifty seconds of "Smoke on the Water": it opens Ritchie Blackmore's unforgettable guitar theme, solo, accompanied by the gradual working in of the drummer's top hat and snare, and then the rumbling bass before the instrumental tension breaks with Ian Gillan letting loose with "We all went down to Montreaux/On the Lake Geneva shoreline" and suddenly it was CFUN again, I was nineteen, and, best of all, sitting in my Eugene, OR study, I didn't have to wake up drunk and hungover and go strip zinc or pour anodes at the Zinc Plant.
Back in Kellogg and Kingston and Cataldo, was it really CFUN? Was their tagline really a rock growling "ALLLLL Hit Music"? Did Scott and I DUI drive the backroads of Shoshone County in search of a spot where CFUN came in loud and clear?
What really happened?
I don't know, but I sure get riled up inside. I hear "Smoke on the Water" and I remember CFUN as if it did happen, and I begin to tremble a bit and tear up.
That's truth enough for me.