We rocked it out, good times...but the track's been sticking with me ever since. I woke up this morning, the memory bright in my mind of being out in a field, bonfires burning, must have been 40 or 50 of us. I was fairly new to Memphis State University (now renamed to University of Memphis, but it'll always be MSU to me), and I had been invited to hang out at an ATO frat party (my uncle, a former ATO, had made some calls and told them I was there). I had no real desire to go the frat route in college, but it was a good party, regardless. The night had been wearing on, the booze was flowing like water, and the spirits were high. I had been made to feel like one of the gang, and for me in a crowd of people I didn't know, this was rare and enjoyed. Beautiful women were all around, smiles flashing in the firelight.
As you can imagine, the combination of flames, firewater, loud music, and a warm late-fall evening had made for a party atmosphere unlike anything I'd ever seen before (and, to be honest, have rarely seen again). Nothing was taboo and everything was permissible. I was a good ol' boy in a Southern college, and it was heaven.
The music in the early part of the party was more popular music, current radio hits and rock, but as the fires settled and the drink took it's toll, as the couples moved off to cloak themselves in shadow and the rest of us came together to enjoy the camaraderie, the music shifted to more bluegrass and Southern rock, and I sat down on a chair in the pack of a pick-up, a bottle of bourbon in my not-legal-to-drink hand, head tilted back to watch the stars, clear and sparkling in the rural night. When I leaned forward again to take another shot off the bottle, there were half-a-dozen others that had joined me, and we passed the bottle around, not speaking. The music changed, and (I know, you knew this was coming) "Green Grass and High Tides" came on.
If you know the song, you know that it's pretty long. A long intro, a verse and chorus, a very long solo, another verse and chorus, and another very long solo to close out a 10-minutes track. Anyway, as it started up, there were a few smiles, and we still said nothing as it rolled on. As the first verse hit, one of the guys in our little gang broke out in song, doing a pretty good job. I'm a singer, so I joined him on the chorus, which was a hit with the rest of the crew. We laughed about it during the first solo, and as the second verse finally came around, we cleared our throats and tore through it. This drew some others who'd just been sitting around drinking, who came in close, and the final chorus had all of us singing with gusto.
That was it, the wave broke. With all of us back into high spirits, everyone was up and dancing to that final solo. Plenty of songs followed that, and we sang most of them with some degree of accuracy, but the alcohol was starting to wear us down. Many left, others retreated to vehicles to sleep off enough of their drunk to drive home. My ride had left me, but the young lady whose truck we'd been in the back of when all this had started (Karen, I think her name was) offered me a ride. We played some Allman Brothers on the way (it seemed appropriate and it was all she had in her tape deck at the time), but we never made it to my place. Her truck overheated, and while we waited for it to cool down, we climbed into the bed of the truck to relax, and ended up fooling around in a light morning rain as the dawn broke.
When I got back to my dorm (closing on 11am or so), my roommate looked up from his book and said "Must have been some party, huh?" I was kinda stuck for a good response. All I could say was "Green grass and high tides forever, Phil," as I climbed onto my bed and passed back out.
Thanks for helping bring that memory back, Mike.