By Grant Robbin
Hang on Sloopy. We’re going on a magical mystery tour. The 60’s. New York City. Greenwich Village. A kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and smells. A psychedelic happening! Everyone Peter Maxed out in bell bottoms, platform shoes and long sideburns (mostly the guys). The scent of weed and body odor blowin’ in the wind on MacDougal Street.
The Village is Grand Central Station for all kinds of performers – musicians, singers, actors, comics. Many famous, more desperately trying to be. Among the chosen: Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Richard Pryor, etc. They performed in clubs like The Bitter End, The Village Gate and Gerdes Folk City, and they hung out in the Village between gigs and tours.
And there I was, at last, up tight everything’s alright smack dab in the middle of it all. A singer-composer, in his twenties, who just finished a gig at Punchinello’s East in Chicago, looking for R-E-S-P-E-C-T in the Big Apple.
By pretending to be an agent on the phone, I got myself a booking at the legendary Bitter End, where a star-studded list of entertainers began their careers. Barbara Streisand, Bill Cosby, James Taylor, to name a few.
Then, during one of my shows, “there she was” in the audience. A girl I’d seen around but only met in my wet dreams. Sher-er-y, Sherry baby. Pretty woman? More like Venus. A bit older than me, but no Mrs. Robinson. Blonde hair, blue eyes. California dreamin’.
As she was leaving the club after my set, I ran after her. “Sher-er-y, Sherry baby, can you come out tonight?” She turned around slowly. I was in a purple haze. A whole lotta love in my future. Sher-er-y’s beautiful ruby red lips parted, she smiled and said, in the sexiest voice this side of Newark, “Hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more!” Eve of destruction. You really got me, girl. I wanted to cry like a baby.
Amazingly, though, Sher-er-y showed up again in the audience the next night. She had a hold on me, I heard a symphony. God knows how I wanted this woman. I gave her my best I-got-you-babe look, sang every song just for her and forgot about yesterday. Then, good golly Miss Molly, there was a you-send-me look on Sher-er-y’s face! Lordy, the times they were a changin’. I felt good (and I knew that I would). I was born to be wild. Under the boardwalk, anywhere, I didn’t care.
Sher-er-y took me home and fed me chili. This girl could light my fire. She said I made her feel like a natural woman (this was before breast implants). I felt like dancin’ in the street. How sweet it was to be loved by her. But then, on weekends, every weekend, she went out to “The Hamptons” to hang out with “Woody Allen.” Hanky panky? I thought she was my girl, but I was just her opening act, and he was her headliner.
Woody Allen. What did he have that I didn’t have? He was Jewish. I was Jewish. He was neurotic. I was neur– (Forget it, I already said we were Jewish). He was short. I wasn’t tall, but I probably had a few inches on him (so to speak). He was funny, rich and famous. I was funny. He hung out with famous people. I had a girlfriend who hung out with him. Did she really want to wake up every day to a face that looked like an old shoe? And, besides, eventually he would leave her for another child.
One day she called. “Gra-a-ant, can you come out tonight?” Sound of silence. The thrill was gone. I’d lost that lovin’ feeling, but breaking up was hard to do. I was uptight, and everything wasn’t alright. Bye bye love, bye bye sweet caress, hello emptiness, I felt like I could die.
Yet, I’m a believer, and it was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius when peace would guide the planets, and love would steer the stars. I wasn’t going to cry me a river. I was going to let the sunshine in. I’d shop around, and I’d find somebody to love, somebody to build me up, build me up, buttercup, not let me down, let me down, mess me around! On that special twist-and-shout day, I’d never again have to say, “I can’t get no satisfaction!”
Hang on Sloopy, hang on!
Grant Robbin is a guest writer for Tumbleweed Diaries. He is a writer-composer-producer of musicals, plays, and screenplays, as well as a screenwriting coach and professor in the Film Department at Columbia College Chicago. For info on coaching, visit www.myscriptcoach.com, or learn more about his projects for stage and screen at www.grantrobbin.com.