|Jeepster on Fly Records, 1971|
Flashback to 1971. The colour’s hazy in my mind but my memory tells me on one side it was spliced down the middle with one hemisphere an iridescent orange, and the other was salmon pink like the label and sleeve. But apparently it was purple. It was a totally beautiful. I was ready to kiss the plastic it seemed so bright. It was a 45 rpm, a small piece of black vinyl with the Fly logo at the top,ready to be played on the old-style record players with the automatic disc stacker handle and the stylus you clipped in manually, which soon got covered with fluff. A good blow on the needle improved the sound quality. It cost me £1.10 pence, nearly all my weekly wage for doing the butcher’s round which I did on a clunky old, heavy-framed black bicycle with a basket in front, just like characters in the Beano and Dandy. I had pounds of beef, brisket, offal, prime cuts, and sausage strings wrapped in grease proof paper, and learned to be wary of salivating dogs lurking behind garden gates. But that didn’t matter one jot. When I got home, I could play my records. This one song by T. Rex, Jeepster, was the coolest thing on the planet, until of course Bowie’s Starman landed a few months later. It was the second single I ever bought. The first was Nathan Jones by the Supremes, with its oddly melancholic stereo phase shifting moments, but that’s another story, leading down the road of Disco music, and that other life of twirling on the seventies dancefloor. Jeepster got me to vamp it up in the bedroom, and swish my head with imaginary corkscrew curls, doing a Bolanesque strum on my air guitar. ‘You slide so good,’ I pouted to myself in the mirror.
There was only one shop in the entire town that would stock T. Rex, and would know who Marc Bolan was – Malcolm’s. Malcolm, himself, the man who owned the shop, was ace. He knew we would only be satisfied with the very latest records. Amazingly, this shop is still there, 40 years later. Woolworths, the big department store, would be no use since they only stocked middle-of- the-road music, only the popular end of the market. My mother bought her Jim Reeves and Nat King Cole LPs there. Enough said. I would put Jeepster on when no one else was in the house. I’d close my eyes and dream of Marc Bolan’s dark pixie corkscrew curls, pouting lips, satin jackets and spangled face, a flick of the wrist that ejaculated a power chord enough to knock your head off. I had pictures of him from the pop song magazines, in Jackie which I stole from my sister. She liked David Cassidy, and consequently knew nothing about what was really cool. My younger brother liked Slade which was even worse.
Unlike John Peel, I didn’t care if Bolan had abandoned acoustic; electric was just fine. But it was the animal squeal that was the dollop of ecstatic icing. ‘Girl I’m just a vampire for your love, n I’m gonna SUCK ya!!!!’ I was not a girl, but I knew that didn’t matter either, as in Bolan’s T. Rex world, he was really singing that to me. It turned me into nothing but a ‘raw ramp’. Give me a microphone and I’d swallow it. I was that hub-cabbed diamond star halo he talked about in Get it On. Bolan’s screech in the coda was enough to shock my mum. That made it rank highly for me. The big pleasure was to tell my friends at school. Have you heard Jeepster? Are you a Jeepster? Can you talk the Jeepster talk? Can you be a schoolboy Jeepster? I don’t think I ever realized until this day that I had no idea what a Jeepster was, but I was one when I was thirteen. No one in my home town had ever owned such a funky vehicle.
So what has all this to do with my life now? A whole lot. By invoking this memory, by reliving it, unpacking it in its sensory detail, sound, colour, movement, even taste, even down to the exact sequence, I can feel that energy all over again, and funnel it to anything today that I’m procrastinating about. This gives it that badly needed kickstart. Plus, I can just feel the love, and gratitude to Bolan for making it possible. Feeling love and gratitude again in this day and age is almost a miraculous achievement. The odds are stacked against us, with a whole list of modern and technological frustrations bleeding away this energy and sapping our life force. Fusing love, gratitude, excitement and enthusiasm for an aural peak experience from a time before the internet, before downloads and streaming, is therefore a triumph. It is a magnificent tool to play with and one that we can call on to give us strength when we most need it.
Your mind is a vast storehouse of items, which can be drawn on like a long forgotten bank account. All it takes is a bit of time to reflect back. This can help access the riches that already exist just lying about in the attics and basements of our experience. I usually say to clients in hypnotherapy sessions, ‘just scan through the
Rolodex of memories’ to find a moment when you felt excited, or in love, or successful, or calm and at peace.It is these feelings we need to loop back to the present wherever they are deficient. This phrase is very effective because the image of a Rolodex means we can flick through a multiple store, our much undervalued inner archives, just as computers do. This way we find we have much more than we thought, and the number of memories is staggering. Such visual flourishes embedded in metaphors are shorthand for complex psychological processes of sifting, sorting, collating and assigning meaning, whether negative or positive. All that can be turned around by a few actions. It is well known as the NLP technique of ‘firing an anchor.’ All that means is using a gesture to re-trigger a memory in a certain direction by repeatedly connecting the senses to a strong memory.
I can relive a piece of enthusiasm that only first timers know, first record, first taste of certain food, smell of flowers, first travel abroad, first exotic beach, first kiss, first love. There’s a strength to the experience that does not diminish with time. In Private Lives by Noel Coward, there’s a line that expresses it so well: ‘Strange how potent cheap music is’. Potent indeed- it’s the right word. But not necessarily cheap since random and apparently valueless memories can be transformed into wealth. So build your store of riches!
It is part of your heritage to have memories of all your first times encoded into your subconscious which misses nothing, records everything. And its potency is often overlooked in our search to solve our current problems. So tap into your memories and have fun with the flashbacks.
Turn them into flash forwards and you can jumpstart the electric current needed to fuel some new venture, to restore faith, or energy and get on with boogieing with Bolan- or your favourite golden oldie- if that’s what it takes to move your forward.
© Kieron Devlin, 2014
all rights reserved