I just recently wrote about the perks of the writing life including that I can work anywhere, anytime. Another is that my writing life is filled with music. As I type this post, I’m sitting on Cocoa Beach (How does the song go? Got my toes in the water, ass in the sand …?) And I’m listening to music from one of the ten most influential albums in my life. And I’m smiling because I know this one is not on any of your shelves!

Post Eight of Ten

Mission Mountain Wood Band: In Without Knocking

MMWBI’ve already given a nod to my older siblings in this series–much of the music on my top ten list came through their musical tastes as I was a child. This one calls for another hat-tip to my oldest brother Dave.

Dave has taught me many life lessons. An appreciation for music in all its different forms and genres is on that list. And that started when my rock-n-roll loving big brother pulled me aside at a family function when I was about ten-years-old, put on this hillbilly bluegrass album he’d found and said, “You gotta hear this!”

The song was Sweet Maria, Never Long Gone. Everything about this song was a shock to my system.

Banjo picking and harmonica into. Bass dropping in after eight bars–one, three, one, three, one, three (you know that pattern). Then the vocal–a great singer. And the lyric got me. Story. The man was in Athens county … and doin’ fine. Oh, and Maria was there. And she was … sweet. Life was … sweet.

The lyrics take listeners on a road trip. We encounter the singer’s good friend Sal. We sip some wine together. We’re all doing fine. I wanted to be there. I wanted to be where people lived life at this pace, forsaking life’s rat-race. Do you know what I mean?

All the band’s instrumental solo breaks are fantastic. Whether a guitar, a banjo, a harmonica, a mandolin, a fiddle–it’s just all soul-stirring, foot tapping fun.

And then the harmonies! Oh my! And this really was the MMWB (or M2WB) claim to fame. The harmonies are so tight, and even at times purposefully discordant in a way that makes you wonder, “What was that?”

You don’t understand what I mean? Skip to the last song on the album, and a MMWB classic, (Pickin’ Our Song in) Mountain Standard Time. You’ll hear it. And what a party it becomes.

You know where, I don’t care, set your lady in a rockin’ chair, fiddles flying, playing all night ’til daylight, Mountain Time … 

So ten-year-old me is digging MMWB. Then my big brother says, “Oh, and you gotta hear this!” He plays a track called Take a Whiff On Me. Being as I was only ten and still unaware of many of the ills in the world, he didn’t bother telling me the song is a huge drug euphemism. I just thought it suggested … I don’t know, maybe after all those nights of fiddling and dancing … body odor, or something. Ten year old boys–stink–seemed to work.

Take a whiff, take a whiff, take a whiff on me! Everybody take a whiff on me! Hey, hey, darlin’ take a whiff on me! 

We’re digging the tune, giggling about it and then comes the last chorus where, instead of saying the word whiff, the singer actually whiffs–takes a huge whiffing inhale–and we both busted out laughing! Roaring! That was funny! You’d have to hear it to get the effect.

This music was story. It was fun. It was light-hearted. It was obvious these guys didn’t take themselves too seriously. And that was attractive. It is attractive.

I lost track of my copy of MMWB’s In Without Knocking years ago. Hadn’t heard it in decades. Been YouTubing MMWB and reminiscing (the only place you can find their stuff today in on YouTube or through the band’s official website).

As I think back on the records that served as soundtrack to my growing up and those that influenced my love for life and story–this one played a powerful role.

Do yourself a favor. Take a break from all the BS and busyness sometime soon. Google up some MMWB. Pick-it in Mountain Standard Time for a spell. You’ll see what I mean. What a hoot!