Independence Day


July 4, 1972


Itís Independence Day.

And there is a strange sense of independence flowing through me.

Itís dark here and foggy.

I canít always tell from the vast number of camp fires the difference between the fields and the race track.

But I can see the stage and its lights, as the fog floats passed it, and I can hear the music.

The light show reminds me of fireworks.

But this isnít the new Woodstock many of us hoped for when we came.

We all want the old magic to return. But the war is winding down. There are rumors that it will be over in time for the presidential election in November, giving Richard Nixon another four years.

I canít believe it has only been four years since he was first elected.

It seems like a life time since those days when Hank and I wandered the streets of Manhattan singing and looking for girls to make love to.

I donít feel like the same person I was.

And Iím not. In that time, I joined the army, talked my way out of the army, burglarized a safe, became a wanted felon, went west, became a hippie, fought with the Hellís Angels, police, freaked out, got my girl pregnant, became a father, and some time later, a husband, turned myself in, came damned near to spending† 20 years in state prison, broke up with my wife, got and lost two jobs, and now Iím sitting here on the cold ground listening to big rock and roll shows I canít quite see for the fog.

Rumors claim The Beatles will be here. But they broke up two years ago, and they werenít even at Woodstock so why would they come to the Pocono Raceway?

Itís very cold away from the fires. People are tearing down the wooden outhouses for fuel to feed the fires. They leave the trees alone. Perhaps the wood is just too green. But outhouses? Oh that stench.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer take the stage and start to play Tarkus.

Itís hard to follow the changes. Itís almost like they are going through segments of The Bible. Itís been hard to distinguish one band from another, although ELP stands out. Grand Funk Railroad somehow got here, apparently by helicopter. In the fog?

Hank Ė if I can find him again Ė must be in heaven since Elton John is supposedly here. So is Rod Stewart.

I keep thinking of Scranton and how Louise and I got stuck there on our way west again in spring of 1971 and how the local freaks there freaked out when they found out we had the first two albums by Led Zeppelin. I didnít think the band was all that good and still donít, something that draws frowns from most of my cool friends.

I keep thinking of that day I carried the legal paperwork uptown when still a messenger in New York City and found a bunch of freaks in a fancy apartment crying, telling me that Janis Joplin was dead.

The news had it the next day.

I remember it made me feel empty. It made me think nothing could ever be the same again. It made me feel as bad almost as the day Louise said she wanted to leave me. I still feel that bad, sitting here in the fog, listening to music from people I canít see, wondering where my best friend got off to, and if Iíll ever see any of them again.


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