Issue 210, Fall 2014
When I was nineteen years old, I dropped out of the Berklee College of Music, where I’d been studying guitar—the one thing I’d ever been halfway good at—to tour with a band that wanted a screaming lead player, and when that all got too stupid and wasted, I moved back in with my parents in Connecticut, stayed in my room trying to get scales and modes and arpeggios up to speed and coming to realize that never in a million years. My father was at me to go to work for him and start regular college in the fall; he owned a chain of furniture stores, and a salesman had quit at the one in Westport. Then Mike, my hippie older brother, called from the hill town in Western Mass where he was living in a cabin on a dairy farm, doing chores in exchange for rent, and said I should come hang out; it was a cool place, with a small lake and a bar, and maybe I could get a job playing. This was the summer of 1975. Mike picked me up at the bus in Greenfield, and I remember driving with him up along the river and the train tracks, through Martin’s Falls and Crowsfield, then taking the turnoff for Bozrah, over a concrete bridge built by the WPA, onto a narrow road out of the valley, following a brook with white water tumbling over the boulders, then past the town hall and post office, the church with the square steeple, the general store, and the white clapboard houses, and onto a farm at the top of a dirt road, and getting out of his car into the quiet, looking off at the green humpbacked hills, and smelling that good air. It made me think I’d had enough of the world, and I still think so.