So I have told you about the kennel that was on the highway between Smyrna and Atlanta and that I had a Jimi Hendrix album “Bold as Love” and that I listened to them over and over and that I was in the seventh grade. I had this particular album because for whatever reason Rushton had left it over at the kennel. All of the music I listened to from then until college were albums my brothers left around or ones I absconded.
So I don’t speak to my father or his new wife for two years I lived with them in the kennel in protest for having to live there. One day my father walks in and says, “Get your stuff together your mother is coming to get you and Jeff.”
Okay…so now I am in LaGrange. Transferred to Hill Street School with 6 wks left in the year and promptly fail all my tests and yet am promoted to the 9th grade I suppose because of my grades at Nash. I remember getting a math test back that was in the 40’s and started crying. Very embarrassing.
Now to the point of the story. One of my classes at LaGrange High was Psychology and the teacher was black. Full integration occurred in LaGrange in 1970 or so, so the fact that we had a black teacher was unusual for that time. One of my first assignments for that class was to take a poem and analyze it from a psychological standpoint. I decided to do, “Castles Made of Sand” off the Hendrix “Axis Bold as Love” album. The song is a poem of sorts and I had memorized it from having heard it so many times. I can recite it to this day and often do to “show off.”
Down the street you can hear her scream you’re a disgrace
As she slams the door in his drunken face
And now he stands outside
And all the neighbors start to gossip and drool
He cries oh, girl you must be mad,
What happened to the sweet love you and me had?
Against the door he leans and starts a scene,
And his tears fall and burn the garden green
And so castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually
A little Indian brave who before he was ten,
Played war games in the woods with his Indian friends
And he built up a dream that when he grew up
He would be a fearless warrior Indian Cheif
Many moons past and more the dream grew strong until
Tomorrow he would sing his first war song and fight his first battle
But something went wrong, surprise attack killed him in his sleep that night
And so castles made of sand melts into the sea, eventually
There was a young girl, who’s heart was a frown
Cause she was crippled for life,
And she couldn’t speak a sound
And she wished and prayed she could stop living,
So she decided to die
She drew her wheelchair to the edge of the shore
And to her legs she smiled you wont hurt me no more
But then a sight she’d never seen made her jump and say
Look a golden winged ship is passing my way
And it really didn’t have to stop, it just kept on going…
And so castles made of sand slips into the sea, eventually
The day comes for me to do my presentation I recite for the class the song and begin my presentation by saying that this is a song of Jimi Hendrix. Before I can say anything else the teacher interrupts me and tells me and the class that the song is not a Jimi Hendrix song. On top of that he says in it in a very condescending way and with a pronounced ethnic inflection.
“No sir. It is a Jimi Henrix song. It is off “Axis Bold as Love.”
“That is not Jimi Hendrix,” he says and then motions for me to continue my interpretation of the song.
I often think of that interchange. At the time I felt that the teacher made the assumption that the little four eyed nerd in no way would be familiar with Hendrix and even more an obscure song that he was unfamiliar.
He was no different from the other people at the concert feeling that I did not deserve to be there that I was “unworthy” or that it diminished their being there by sitting next to a kid.
Well I did not leave it there with him motioning for me to continue. He made me mad and he did it in smugness of thinking he was right. It was as if it was a reverse racial remark.
“It is off Axis Bold as Love. It is the third song on the second side(I don’t remember now but did then). I have seen Jimi Hendrix in concert live in Atlanta,” and then continued with my presentation.
As was my nature then and is somewhat now, I had an attitude problem the rest of the year and this in turn was reflected in the grade he gave me. So the Booya was a bit premature but felt good.