Monday, June 13, 2011

How an Impromptu Hippie Jam Band Saved My Monday

Man, I suck at Mondays.  And they aren't Charlotte's best days, either.  We had kind of a busy family weekend, which was good, but we didn't have nearly as much outside time or family play time as I would have wanted, and that means Mondays are rough.  Charlotte wants me to play with her, I am trying to drag my butt to the desk to get some work done, and that laundry isn't going to wash itself.  (Yes, I have turned into the kind of person who has to think about laundry.  Sucks, a bit.)  After a long miserable day, Matt got home later than I wanted him to (but as soon as the bus could get him here) and I was snapping at him and he was arguing with Charlotte, and these dang kids were playing guitar out our window, and then suddenly Matt and I were grinning and joking.

Matt said, "You know what Hampshire really ruined for me?"

I replied, "Impromptu hippie jam bands?"


I know I've mentioned it before, (I think I'm gonna have to go back and tag entries) but Matt and I both attended, and didn't graduate from, Hampshire College.  Hampshire is a liberal liberal arts college, small & full of artists, hippies, hipsters, film students, photographers, tech geeks, theatre people, gamers, geeks, nerds, and anyone else who would want to go to a small school without grades that can't offer you a lot of financial aid.  One of the things that I think is prevalent at some schools, but EPIDEMIC at Hampshire is informal drum circles, hippies jamming on the quad, and random people singing while someone dances.  (There were also breakdancers whipping out ghetto blasters and squares of linoleum, when I was there IN 1997.)  I spent 2 years full time at Hampshire, and let me tell you, I have heard my share of impromptu jams.  And the people who were playing outside my window today could have cribbed the setlist from any of them.  It was both weird and funny.

Tension broken from our shared nostalgia, Matt took Charlotte outside to get some fresh air while I got dinner started.  Apparently the hippies were very nice to Charlotte - she is an appreciative audience, and had told me that she was really wanting to go out there - "I'm friendly and brave!  I want to meet them and play guitar with them while they are singing!  Do you think they are brave too?  Can I go play music with them?"  She danced and clapped for them while they sang their various songs.  When Matt & Charlotte came back inside, they started singing "Jane Says" and I pretty much died laughing.  "How old are they??  They can't be old enough to know these songs," I said to Matt.

"Well, the girl singing is almost 27," he said.  "She asked Charlotte when her birthday was, and when Charlotte said September 24th the girl said she would be 27 on September 19th, so..."

"Chris's age.  Hmm.  They must have older siblings."  Seriously, their set list was like MTV's early/mid 90s afternoon rotation, with a couple hippie exceptions (two Janis Joplin songs):

mercedes benz
bobby mcgee
no rain
jane says
what i got
what's up
mr jones
what i like about you

The "What's Up" cover was pretty timely, for me personally, because I've listened to it a few times this year already.  I was thinking that Charlotte would like it, and she sort of does (though she likes this cover of it better) but I realized how much I loved that song.  I also looked it up on Wikipedia last year and discovered that the singer has done some other projects, none reaching the kind of exposure that this single did, but that she's actually a song writer who has written or co-wrote a ton of big songs.  So that was cool.  And, uh, maybe I sang along in my apartment with the hippie jam band while washing my dishes.

Matt and I had another crack up moment when they started playing "No Rain," because a) I love that song b) everyone used to say I reminded them of the Bee Girl*.  Then we started giggling even harder because Charlotte ran to her room and started rifling through her instruments to find something to play along with it.  She picked up and put down two tambourines and started playing them, which caused Matt and I to lose it.  "What, does she just instinctively know this song?"  She ended up bringing out her drum, but again, seriously, this whole thing just turned my day around.

* Just a nice way of saying, "You know you're chubby and kind of  weird, right?" but I was okay with it.  Also one time at Hampshire Halloween someone dressed as the Bee Girl and I was jealous because I always meant to do a costume but never got one together.  Maybe this year. Or maybe when Charlotte is older so I can REALLY embarrass her.

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