I Found All the Parts

I Found All the Parts: Healing the Soul through Rock 'n' Roll is a book about my spiritual awakening as a rock music fan. Nearly seven years ago, I asked why rock music fans such as myself were still so passionate about the bands that many of us became addicted to during our teen years. In the flash of an instant, I heard an answer, and knew I'd write a book about it. Yes, totally freaky, parallel world kind of stuff you see in a B-grade science fiction movie. But, this was real life, and my mystical experience altered my consciousness so that I could begin a journey which would delve deeper than I could ever imagaine into the recesses of my heart, mind, and soul.


Here's an excerpt from the beginning of I Found All the Parts:

Chapter 1

“FAN MAIL”—Blondie
The rest of the band will follow me down any dark alley. Sometimes there’s a light at the end of the alley, and sometimes there’s a black hole. The point is, you don’t get an adventure in music unless you’re willing to take chances.” —Jerry Garcia, musician

Teenage girls just wanna have fun. For this girl, having a blast in the late 1970s on Long Island, NY, included going to Friday-night teen discos at the Knights of Columbus and confiding to my spandex-clad girlfriends which cute boy was my latest crush. If I wasn’t doing the Hustle, you could find me in the basement, playing “Freebird” on my electric guitar with the neighborhood guys. Mom always knew when we had jammed downstairs, because the ear-splitting vibrations made the decorative plates in her china closet dance out of place. She would walk around the house bellowing, “Goddammit! Who moved my china again?”

My love of music went waaay back to the days of my rhythmic kicking in Mom’s womb, keeping her awake all night. Even as a fetus, I could hear her yelling, “Goddammit, what are you doing in there? The Locomotion?”

On a hot summer’s day in 1963, I’d had enough of being all cramped up, and I kicked my way to freedom out of my heavily sedated, unconscious mother’s birth canal. But music would make the birth ordeal worthwhile.

The first time I saw a piano at age three, Dad had to use a crowbar to pry me away from it. Fortunately, four years later, my neighbor bought a used upright and started giving me piano lessons. That was the happiest day of my young life.

Playing music was like discovering a psychotropic drug, and my parents encouraged me to be a user. Studying classical music over the next few years opened up a world of harmony and an appreciation for the brilliance of the great Masters. But it was during my high-school days that contemporary music became my melodic drug of choice, and I succumbed to being a total rock ‘n’ roll junkie. Chopin? Mozart? Beethoven? Roll over dead, guys. There’re new kids in town—and they go by winsome names such as The Clash, AC/DC, The Cars, Foreigner, and Aerosmith.

My teenage daydreams often landed me at Madison Square Garden, playing in a rock band to thousands of screaming fans. I wasn’t interested in being in an all-girl band like The Runaways. I really wanted to have fun. I longed to be a rock goddess, to play better than Clapton and be surrounded by boys who envied my prodigious talent.

But reality bites big time.

My plan to be a rock star was very short-lived. At age fifteen, I realized that, while my $65 black Les Paul copy edition Univox electric guitar (with humbucking pick-ups and holographic stickered-on pinstripes) looked spectacular, it could not overcome my god-awful playing. Despite the years of piano lessons, there wasn’t a molecule of musical talent in my DNA.

So my guitar was coveted by many a teenage boy who secretly hoped I would take up the glockenspiel, each wanting to inherit my awesome “black baby.” During a particularly loud pathetic jam session when Mom’s plates danced a mile off their mark in the china closet, one of my partners-in-noise told me about a band his older brother was “totally into.”

“Do they have a guitar as fine as mine?” I inquired.

“No. They have even better guitars than yours, Laura. In fact, the lead guitarist has like a couple of hundred guitars!”

“No way. It can’t be true,” I snottily replied. My nose stuck so high up in the air that I could snort a cirrus cloud.

But one day, he brought me their first three albums and dared me to listen. I hate it when dudes dare or double-dare ya, so I finally caved and put the most recent album on my turntable.

“Whoop de friggin’ do. What’s all the fuss about?” I quipped. “For a guy with hundreds of guitars, I’m so not impressed.” My nose was hovering at high altitude.

But as a few more songs caught my ear, some of the tunes weren’t that bad, so I decided to play their first album. After several spins, WHAM!, a rapid succession of metaphoric two-by-fours walloped me between the eyes—accompanied by a voice inside my head, yelling, Wake the Bleep Up, Laura! This is the music you’ve been waiting for. This is it. One moment, I was a normal deluded girl who thought she could be a rock star. Then, in the flash of my Kodak instamatic camera, I transformed into a die-hard rock fan.

When I finally took the time to look at the album covers, the lead singer—with his long Goldilocks hair—blew me away. There was a dramatic moment of recognition…as if I’d somehow known him before. He seemed so damn familiar, and reminded me of the Norse god Thor I’d seen in comic books. But it was the sultry resonance of his voice that drew me into a hypnotic whirlpool of teenage fantasy. Every guy in the band was cool—but not too cool. They weren’t untouchable superstars like the Stones or Led Zeppelin. I could relate to this band (hereafter referred to as TBIF or The Band I Follow.)

I was officially hooked on their sound. My snooty high-brow nose was now sniveling in the dirt. This band’s obvious genius for music threw my woeful lack of musical talent into sharp relief. Even the lead guitarist simply breathing onto his six strings created a far superior sound than the dreck that had been coming out of my shiny black baby. He played about a gazillion times better than me. One-eyed, deaf amputees played better than me.

With dreams of rock stardom dashed, I consoled myself by playing in the high-school band, and took up the French horn (no glockenspiels were available at school), much to my mother’s chagrin.

“Why can’t you play something nice and soft?” she asked, “Something that won’t move my dishes? Like the flute?”

It killed my mom that her only child, anatomically a girl, dressed like a disheveled lumberjack and liked loud, unfeminine musical instruments.

Many bands and artists had graced my turntable, but my feeling toward TBIF was vastly different. The heavier the song, the harder I fell. Something about the bassist’s intoxicating riffs on his Hamer 12-string bass lured me like a hypnotized cobra listening to a snake charmer’s flute. I couldn’t get enough of those deep, pounding vibrations in my body and, without comprehending why, their music touched my soul like nothing else I had ever heard.

For a long time, I had hoped to connect with others who shared my passion, but I knew less than a handful of fellow TBIF fans. I tried to turn the other kids onto TBIF, but no one was interested. Finally, a live album was released in the United States, and TBIF zoomed up the charts. Yay! Everyone now loved my band. But seemingly within nanoseconds, TBIF’s popularity waned. By the time college rolled around, me, myself and I were the only beings in my circle of friends who liked TBIF.

For nearly twenty years, I remained a fan and watched TBIF perform from afar—until 1997. I’d heard you could buy pricey VIP tickets for the first and second rows and I imagined what fun it would be to have a seat so close to the stage. In the past, I always ended up in row ZZZ and needed The Six Million Dollar Man’s funky telescopic eyeball to zoom in on those little dots that were supposed to be rock stars.

By the time I checked into tickets, however, there weren’t any seats available closer than the far right side of the thirteenth row. I’d been to at least a dozen TBIF concerts over the years and going to another show with crummy seats seemed pointless. My enthusiastic fandom had tapered off a tad over the decades—but a little voice inside urged me to buy a ticket anyway.

My arrival at the concert was, as some fans refer to it, “stupid early.” There was hardly anyone in the theater except for me and a completely inebriated dude. As luck would have it, his seat was one over from mine. He kept trying to talk to me throughout the warm-up band’s set, but his sluuuuuured speeeeeech rendered conversation pointless.

After the warm-up band ended, the dude stumbled back over to the bar. A female security guard got my attention and asked, “Was that guy bothering you?”

“He’s a bit annoying, but harmless,” I told her.

“Follow me,” she said.

Before I realized what was happening, I was escorted to a seat in the second row, right in front of the lead guitarist! Something magical took place during the concert, like a light had turned from 100 to 100,000 watts of power. The smile on my face stretched all the way to Toledo. I was totally hooked on TBIF again.

At the time, getting closer to TBIF had seemed like dumb luck. But now I know it was most certainly fate. This concert was essential for my spiritual awakening. An inner voice grew louder and louder:

“WAKE THE BLEEP UP!”

One warm day in June 1998, TBIF performed at an outdoor music festival. As I stood in the crowd, waiting for them to come on stage, the names of the guys in the band did a foxtrot in my head.

Huh. That’s weird.

Then their first names transformed into their four initials over and over. It’s just a silly acronym, I contemplated to myself. I must be doing too many crossword puzzles. Fuhgetaboutit.

I tried to forget, but the initials, which sounded like the name Robert, kept popping into my noggin’ out of the blue.

Intuition is a funny thing. Sometimes it hits us like a two-by-four; other times it appears like a breadcrumb trail. This “Robert” nudge, I realized later, was a really significant breadcrumb. I just didn’t know it yet.

Several weeks after this strange repetition of TBIF’s initials had inserted its way into my consciousness, I walked toward a picture of the band on the wall of my office at work. Nothing fancy. Just their 1997 Christmas postcard for fan-club members. (I wear my Superfan-club badge with great pride!)

With colossal intensity, I looked straight at the photo and shouted inside my head, Why am I so freakin’ obsessed with you and your music?!

A thought rang loud and clear back into my mind: Because you’ve been together before.
Together before??? NO WAY. NO BLEEPING WAY!

But after a moment of knee-jerk disbelief, I thought, So, that’s why I can’t get these guys out of my head? Suddenly, it all clicked into place and made complete sense. I’d had a past life with TBIF.

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