Saturday, March 20, 2010

Better than All the Pills

Let me tell you about my 38th birthday. It was 2007. I took a frozen dinner to my parents' house and ate it while I watched a movie; it was all the excitement I could stand. In prior years, I'd gone out on a weeknight and worn out dance partners half my age. But that year, I had a sprained neck and back and TMJ problems from a car wreck and an undiagnosed acute infection of H. pylori and esophageal ulcer. I was working a lot of hours and the helper my employer hired had the IQ of a bowl of cornflakes. Between ibuprofin, antibiotics, acid blockers and vitamins, I'd soon be taking 20 pills a day.

The relief I found didn't come from massage or acupuncture, but music. Specifically, it came from old R&B from the 40s and 50s played every Saturday night on a radio program called R&B Jukebox. (What's old R&B? Readers of a certain age may remember the cast of the Cosby Show lip synching "The Night Time is the Right Time" by Ray Charles, David Lee Roth's version of "Just a Gigolo," and Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog." The original R&B versions of the last two songs, by Louis Prima and Big Mama Thornton, are what you might hear on the program and are better by a mile--click the links if you want to hear samples.) The music put into me the verve that my body and spirit lacked. It reminded me of the home away from home where I danced. It made me forget about my back and neck and stomach and the bonehead I worked with. I needed the pills to get well, but the music helped me feel like I was already there.

At this writing, R&B Jukebox still comes on KUVO at 89.3 FM in Denver or over your computer on Saturdays from 7 to 9 p.m. Parents, note: some of the songs are about getting drunk and getting laid--yes, people did those things in the 40s and 50s. But the naughty songs do not, to my mind, degrade women, and little ones may or may not pick up on the metaphors, double entendre or 60-year-old slang. May you enjoy this music as much as I do.

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