Rick's List — Musical Warfare Edition

For such a happiness-providing art form, music definitely has its advantages as a weapon. This occurs to me because of an article I saw a few days ago in The New York Times describing how Deutsche Bahn — Germany's national train operator — is going to replace the "gentle classical" music that plays in a Berlin railway station with atonal music. The goal? That maybe the abstruse tuneage will drive away nests of drug-takers who apparently cluster therein.

Well, most junkies I've known would probably enjoy nodding off to Schoenberg or Scriabin, but I appreciate the idea. Seems like I remember a long-ago effort, by some codger who owned a West Coast ice cream parlor, to play loud classical music pursuant to driving away feisty teenagers who gathered outside his store. As someone who worked scooping ice cream from the ages of 14 to 17, I'm not sure why alienating teens — in my experience a prime consumer group in the "let's eat lots of ice-cream demographic — made much sense, but ...

Anyway, now that I'm decrepit, I take pleasure in remembering a time when I came up with an act of musical warfare that would have made Sun Tzu, Hannibal and Stonewall Jackson kneel in supplication. Here's how it happened:

1. My parents had a lake house in a little cul-de-sac on Lake Tawakoni in East Texas. The folks to the right were wonderful people and we're still in touch long after we've each abandoned those properties. They had slightly younger children — early 20s at the time — and, one 4th of July weekend, with both houses overflowing and dozens of guests buoyant with beer-fueled mirth, the next-door kids produced a large outdoor jam box and insisted on loudly playing Whitesnake's "Still of the Night" over and over and over. Not the nine-tune, self-titled album that included "Still of the Night," but just that one song. The goal seems to do so in perpetuity.

2. We asked politely, and then not so politely, if they could turn it down or at least vary the material. Nope. Theirs seemed to be a gesture of commitment and defiance.

3. The joyous Whitesnake enthusiasts' big mistake was not remembering that I was in a working band. I drove back to Dallas — about an hour away — loaded our complete and arena-ready PA system into our van, and drove back to Lake Tawakoni.

4. Without saying a word or looking even once over at the neighbors, we began to erect the columns of speakers on my folks' outdoor patio. Gradually, you could sense the unease as the Whitesnakers began to assimilate what they'd wrought. Too late!

5. We set the volume to "melt the sun," and played not Whitesnake. For a long time. 

6. "General Lee, welcome to Appomatox."


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