A Braided Chain

When I was a kid, Dad always had a new car. This time it was a long, cool, blue Oldsmobile with brand new technology-an 8 track cassette player. A cassette of sinful radio hits was included, forbidden music I couldn’t wait to hear.

As we cruised along, noses full of new car smell, Dad popped the illicit tape into the player, probably in order to stop my begging. I kneeled in the back seat, head shoved into the rear deck, as Brandy floated into my ear. I could see her fine, silver necklace and her long, brown braids. I had confused the braided chain of her necklace with her hair. Don’t judge me, I had long, brown braids and had already merged myself into Brandy.

I could see the eyes of the red-bearded sailor she loved and the warm whiskey and wine glow. The scene created itself, spooling out of my six year old brain, as the road pulled away outside the rear window. I felt Brandy’s longing for a man who couldn’t stay, even though he knew she would be a good wife, and the mist of the seaport air. I hoped Brandy was safe while she walked home alone, in the dim light of the harbor. The stone streets were wet with recent rain.

I am telling you this was a detailed daydream. And they used to wonder why it was so hard to get my attention sometimes. As soon as my parents noticed my fixation, the tape disappeared, of course. The struggle to keep me focused on church music was real.

Sitting in a bar last night, listening to the best blues singer I’ve ever heard anywhere, suddenly Little Steve O was singing my song. The visuals my child brain created banged back into existence in an instant. I still remember every word to that song. How could I forget? I didn’t think about the fascinating effect of music on a child’s brain, but I did close my eyes and sing along, transported to another place by his haunting vocals and waves of guitar riffs.

Side note: The Red Hot Chili Peppers also did an excellent rendition of Brandy.

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