In the summer of 1973, I walked up Carle Road, crossed the railroad tracks — stepping gingerly over the third rail — and went to see Jeff Bridges in The Last American Hero at Raceway Cinema.
Because of the two sets of tracks, there were actually two electrified rails to cross — a third and fourth rail if you will — and in those days it was perfectly normal for eleven-year-olds to use this as a shortcut. You’d step carefully onto the wooden beams that ran above the third rail and over you went. I wonder if those things ever broke?
The movie was the story of racing legend Junior Johnson’s rise from running moonshine in North Carolina to NASCAR fame and fortune. Great flick — but my favorite part may have been the use of Jim Croce’s I’ve Got a Name over the opening sequence. I was a HUGE Jim Croce fan, so this was absolutely thrilling. I immediately went out and bought the 45.
When Croce died in a plane crash later that year, I hid in my room and listened to that record all day long. I cried and cried. Come on, I was eleven.
All this was deep in the folds of my aging brain until the song popped up on Pandora. It’s funny how music can move you so many years later, connecting you with a specific feeling from a certain time. A taste, a smell, a song — they flip on the lights in the dark corners of your head.