I Think I Know Now

For a very long time I’ve been wondering about this certain music that literally makes me ill. There’s a band I can’t listen to without getting physically sick; nauseated. The band is Bachman Turner Overdrive. Even to write the name out makes me feel queasy and gives me glimmerings of biliousness. I don’t hate the band. Not at all. I LIKE them! This isn’t critic’s nausea. This is the real thing. And I have not been able to figure out where this comes from.

For the longest time I thought (or perhaps fantasized) it was some kind of trauma. But it’s nothing like that. There’s no horrible incident that I’ve repressed. There IS something I have repressed though.

In 1974 my world began to change. I can’t really explain how except to say I was suddenly angry all the time. I guess I was 15 going on 16 and that’s what happens. And I guess I wasn’t just angry, I was all the things boys are at that age.

For me it was a terribly and utterly lonely time. I had no one to share the feelings with. My father did not relate to me that way. We talked about sports, which I liked. He never spoke to me about feelings in this fashion, or if he did I pushed him away quickly in embarrassment and he would not pursue the matter.

My mother gave it lip service. As was always the case she tried, but either she did not understand or was a bit afraid to. The result being my angst was my own. Totally my own. And it took the form of behavior that I think has led to this weird musical sickness.

I guess I would first focus on an incident. I dropped AP Chemistry after several weeks in the fall of 1974. Though getting an A in the Lab I was pulling a C in class. The class was hard, so hard in fact I threw my ceramic piggy bank across my room and smashed it against the wall in frustration. I could not get it. I was failing at it and it made me frustrated to a point I hadn’t felt since I was a kid blowing up when my team lost.

My chemistry teacher sat me down and told me she thought it was best I dropped back to regular chemistry, which was certainly a reasonable thing to suggest. When she said that though I utterly, utterly hated her. I focused all my frustration on her as the progenitor of it, which she was at least at the moment, telling me I wasn’t good enough for the impressive AP Chemistry. I told her no, that I would rather quit, and got up abruptly and walked out. I could hear her surprised behind me saying something like “Wait!” but I would hear none of it, and enjoyed that she was confused. I wanted her to know I was angry. I wanted her to feel responsible. I wanted her to hurt.I don’t know if she did, but I could imagine it which is what mattered to me.

As I’ve mentioned, this was not new behavior. But it was behavior I hadn’t exhibited in a long time, which, as I said, manifested itself when my favorite team lost. This was the first time it came from something so personally embarrassing. It was my own failing, not my team’s.

What began to emerge in me then was a kind of fantasized rage. My anger against the chem. teacher became a kind of religion. I thought about seeing her in the hallway and just staring at her, making her feel uncomfortable, like she had hurt me terribly. I longed for a moment like that. I loved having something to focus all my rage on.

Where did the rage come from? Divorce. Parental angst. Depression. Insecurity. You know this stuff.

Other candidates to focus my hate on were to follow. Sometimes girls, sometimes those girls’ boyfriends. My hate grew to encompass anyone who thwarted my will. The year went by and my hate found more and more to sate it.

And Bachman Turner Overdrive was part of it, as were other bands, but  Bachman Turner Overdrive I should’ve loved because it was silly fun. Good hearted rock and roll, uncomplicated and homey. It was music that said my hometown to me as much or more than anything else I’d heard. I loved it.

And it made me sick because I guess I was sick.

Knowing this makes the thought of the band and its music less queasy. The sick feeling may come back again, but I think I’ve uncovered from whence it originates. I think.

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