Saturday, February 11, 2012

Webster Hangover: The Back Story

I spent 6th through the beginning of 8th grade in a small, unincorporated area between Webster and Kirkwood called Oakland. It was a beautiful wooded place and the only house I had ever lived in.

I actually went through 8th grade in Kirkwood, Hillsboro, and back to the city in Laclede Town. In spite of that, I spent more time out of school than in.

Hillsboro was a bit of a culture shock. It was a huge rural school that kids were bussed in from miles around. In spite of its size, every single kid was white.

When I moved back to the city, I still missed all my friends in the county. Already suffering from acute nostalgia, I began to hitchhike back when I was 14.

The first person I looked up was my buddy Don Belk. He was in a band and turned me onto the cheap guitars at Mel Bay Music in Kirkwood.

He had just fallen in love with a girl named Lee Bock in Webster. He left his girlfriend Nancy, and to make him jealous, she decided I was her boyfriend.

This was the first girlfriend I ever had and when she realized Don wasn’t coming back, she dumped me immediately.

It was great while it lasted, though. She was 16 and had access to her dad’s car. I was the only kid who had a girlfriend that drove.

She lived in a huge house that had a secret passage to hide runaway slaves. It was part of the Underground Railroad. I used to hide from her dad in there.

Lee had a twin sister named Lin who was the first girl I really fell in love with. With Nancy, making out was very matter of fact and we went right at it. With Lin, we hid in the bushes by the railroad tracks and it must’ve taken 2 hours before got up the nerve to kiss.

I started bring my city friends out there. We were nobodies back home, but in Webster we were the worldly city boys.

Somehow, an intense amount of disdain I had for a girl named Pam turned into an equal amount of love. I left Lin to be with her and we became inseparable. She even came back to the city with me and entered the alternative high school I went to with Dominic. Logos gave us SLR cameras and access to a dark room. That’s how I took all the pictures for this project. Unfortunately, I took the pictures so there aren’t any of me. My dear friend Margie Manne provided me with what I have.

This was all happening as the band was developing. We were experimenting with everything!

The twins’ older sister Ali went out with my buddy Kent who lived downstairs from me in our old Soulard house. It had been rehabbed into an apartment building. This was before gentrification and the place was a dump. Ali is still one of my favorite people.

Almost as soon as we started learning songs, Dominic and I wrote. We decided it wasn’t too ambitious to write a rock opera based on our life and loves in Webster. After all, we were a couple of world weary 15 year olds. We called our masterpiece Webster Hangover.

All but two of the songs on this project were recorded on a little cassette recorder I placed on a table at our first audition as Jon Cotton. It was at a place called The Star Chamber in Clayton. In those days 18 year olds could drink 3.2 beer in restaurants in Missouri. They didn’t know Dom, the oldest of us, was only 16.

We performed the entire opera and landed the gig. Unfortunately, the night of the actual gig there was a basketball game on TV and no one wanted the band to play. Friends that showed up weren’t happy about it and made that pretty clear. We were all asked to leave.

I think all of the songs are represented here. I couldn’t find a copy of “Someone to Talk To” so I recorded the only two verses I could remember. Dominic left his flute at my studio, so I used it. Originally he sang it and played flute. Luckily the song was in C so it was easy to play. Unfortunately, I still had to record several takes because I have absolutely no lip. I nostalgified it a bit with the EQ. It’s the one with the black and white hallucination scene form one of my early films.

The last piece was also the last song of the project. It’s called “Going Back to the City”. It’s a recording of the band learning it in Dom and Benet’s basement in Laclede Town.

I left in some of the banter because I love the sound of our young voices. Benet was probably 13 and his voice hadn’t changed yet.

My girlfriend Valerie and I took a field trip to Webster and Oakland to get shots of the houses for the instrumental track. The houses in order are: my house in Oakland, Don’s, Nancy’s, the Bock’s, Pam’s and finally our house in Soulard. I don’t have any good shots of Benet and Dominic’s place in Laclede Town West. The best I could do was the aerial shot at the beginning. The pan stops at their house on the corner. We rehearsed in the basement there.

The tape was old and I could only retrieve bits and pieces. Almost all of the lyrics are lost and that’s probably just as well. The pics are a little beat up too.

By 15 we’d seen it all as evidenced by our lyrics---

“You say you can rely on me, but you don’t know for sure

My blood runs cold, I’m thin and old and my thoughts aren’t quite so pure”

Check it out -------

Jon Cotton was:

Jon Steffen – Lead Guitar

Benet Schaeffer – Drums

Dominic Schaeffer – Vocals, Flute, Acoustic Guitar

David Udell – Rhythm Guitar

The songs are:

E Harmonix

Webster Hangover

Someone to Talk To

Slip Away


Going Back to the City

No comments: