Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Plastic cup night caps"

For reasons obvious to anyone following news events here in mid-January 2010, I am profoundly in the dumps, and it doesn't look like it will be going away anytime soon; so I amuse myself by casting my mind back to when things were simpler and all I wanted to do was write songs about beer.

This is, best I can remember, the first song I ever recorded (ca. 1985). It was recorded, mostly performed and cowritten by a guy named Jeff Rouder, who befriended me when he noticed I had aced an organic chemistry exam that stumped him.

Jeff went on to teach science at the college level, while I ran away from the academy to play rock music and ended up, on the road, turning a buck from journalism, which became my career. There is probably some sort of object lesson in this, as the science tutor and the dormitory musician somehow inverted roles.

The story behind the song is self-explanatory, so long as you understand what a plastic cup night cap is. I grew up drinking underage in gritty steel mill town bars, where at the end of the night, which came in the mid-morning, they put you out on the street with your last drink poured into a plastic cup. One often went to bed, which actually may have been the backseat of a car, with the person with whom you shared that last drink - that plastic cup night cap.

As a misfit transfer student at the wealthy and alien Washington Univerity, a kid who already had gone AWOL from the U.S. Navy in a foreign port, plastic cup night caps came back to me as an image for my white trash social roots.


"Plastic cup night caps"
(Chris King, Jeff Rouder)
ca. 1985
Big Toe*

* Band name I have used for any music I did before starting the band Enormous Richard.

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