Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Summer Nights and The Rolling Stones

When I was a teenager, I was close friends with two brothers and was practically their third sibling. Ron and Jeff Marx, along with myself, were inseparable for a time period, particularly the summer of 1989. We all worked at Roy Rogers fast food restaurant together (anyone remember those) on the night shift. Summertime was the best time to work there, because it meant that I could work the night shift any night of the week.

After we would close down the restaurant, the three of us (and anyone else who wanted to join along) would head over to the nearest diner, drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, and order some breakfast. When you’re 15, this is the coolest thing in the world. Other times, we would ride around in Ron’s 1973 green Chevy Nova, listen to music and just be happy to be out. I was still two years away from getting my license and Jeff was a year from his, so it was awesome that Ronnie would drive us around. We’d just enjoy the evening doing nothing.

On a lot of nights, there was music. Ronnie was a huge fan of the Rolling Stones, and through him and his influence, I became a much bigger fan than I was. Before I started spending time with him and Jeff, I was a casual fan at best. While Jeff got me hooked deep on AC/DC, it was Ronnie that got me hooked on the Rolling Stones.

We would play Tattoo You on a lot of these nights, particularly side two, the slower side. I have always considered Tattoo You a perfect album. I am very careful with that term and which albums I give that label to, but to me the true definition of a perfect album is when you want to hear the next song as badly as you want to replay the last, then it’s a perfect album. That’s how we felt about Tattoo You. Side two was the perfect soundtrack for late summer nights. Driving around town or home from work with the windows down, the warm breeze on my face, and The Rolling Stones Heaven, or No Use In Cryin’ blasting out of the car stereo; life didn’t get any better than that.

Heaven is the one song I remember best from those days. Jeff was a huge fan of it, because it sounded like Pink Floyd to him. I was always mesmerized by the funky groove and the fact that I couldn’t figure out the lyrics. To this day, I still have trouble determining exactly what Mick is singing.

Ronnie would turn me on to several other Rolling Stones albums, particularly their older works, and I would spend a lot of my paychecks on their music over the years. Trying to collect every release by The Rolling Stones is no easy feat. I would get very close, but I still don’t own them all. I can still remember buying Made In The Shade and Rewind on Compact Disc. Those were two of the rarest Rolling Stones albums and to own them showed that you were a true Stones fan. The sense of pride that went through me when I finally had both of them in my collection was overwhelming.

When I got out of high school and started working different jobs and attending college, I lost touch with Ronnie. Jeff and I remained the closest of friends, but as the years progressed, I would only see Ron at Jeff’s son’s birthday parties. We would always go down memory lane and I always told myself that we needed to get together more often like the old days. Go bowling, blast the Rolling Stones, and hit the diner afterward. We never did get around to having that nostalgic reunion.

Ronnie passed away last weekend. He died suddenly and unexpectedly. When I got the news I was in shock and I am still numb to the whole ordeal. Although Ronnie and I were not as tight as we were back in those summer days, it still felt like I lost a member of my family. It’s hard to believe that he’s gone and that those summer nights with The Rolling Stones were so long ago and will forever be only a memory now.

I’m going to miss Ron a lot. His older brother influences stayed with me throughout my life, especially my love for The Rolling Stones. He taught me a lot of other things and helped to shape some of the principals that are still constant in my life today. For those few critical years he and Jeff were my older brothers and I still consider them family, which is what makes losing Ronnie so hard. The passing of a friend is hard enough, but when it’s someone that you considered a sibling, it’s that much harder. May he rest in peace. His memory will live on forever, and every time I play Tattoo You, I will look back on those summer nights fondly and remember the great times that we had together, however short they were.

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