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LINK
WRAY
A Personal Tribute

The Loathsome Webmeister reflects on a childhood fraught with tragedy and peril...


 
A childhood starved for rock 'n' roll....
 
You might well ask, Who the hell is Link Wray? But first you have to read all this garbage about my childhood. Why? Because it is the key to understanding Link Wray at least as he applies to me. You don't care? Then surf somewhere else.

So here's the deal:

At 15, unlike most of my peers, I had not discovered rock 'n' roll. I had heard it but it had never really resonated with me. What do you expect? I played violin in the school orchestra and cared about nothing more than the snooty girl who had been chosen first chair in the orchestra over me. I would eventually quit over the trauma of being passed over by this creature with overdeveloped mammary glands. It's not that I didn't appreciate the aesthetics of these protuberances but I was still naive enough to believe that talent and skill were still the most important things for advancement in a musical career. I eventually realized that I would never be able to compete with this girl or with any person of aesthetically pleasing appearance and proportions with mere talent and skill. I realized that being able to get through the first movement of Mozart's Eiene Kleine Natchtmusik without a single mistake would not even get me out of the second row next to the buck-toothed kid with a cleft pallet and taped glasses.

Adolescence is not an easy time of time for anyone but it is particularly devastating for those of us who had not yet embraced our own cultural loathsomeness. It was 1965.

So all I could do was go to Glen Echo Amusement Park near Washington, D.C. and bury my sorrows in the terrors and delights awaiting me there. I would ride the big old fashioned wooden roller coaster until my shins bled and eat cotton candy and ice cream cones until I wanted to puke. Yes, this was the life.

Why I wandered over to the area by the big outdoor stage I could not begin to tell you. It was teaming with young attractive adolescents in their turtle neck shirts and Beatle boots. I despised them, each and every one. Perhaps I was motivated by some anthropological impulse to discover in some way the secret motivations of this mysterious and ugly subculture. Maybe I actually wanted to be just like them, attractive and popular... Today my memory has spared me this knowledge.

Hey! What is this crap?

I stood in the midst of this collection of offensive human refuse, my senses overloaded with the sights and sounds and repugnant odors. I wondered what had caused them to congregate in this place, what ritual might be about to take place. I quivered with excitement at the thought that I would be able to experience strange esoterica.

Then this guy from the park in a suit and tie walked on stage and announced, 'Okay kids, Link Wray and the Ray-Men. Donít throw your trash on the ground.'

I knew there was something wrong when the band walked out on stage and a general disapproving murmur rose from the crowd. Link Wray and the Ray-Men weren't even kids and they weren't wearing the correct uniform of the HERD. They appeared in jeans, leather jackets, and affected a generally belligerent expression that was clearly not acceptable to this crowd. These guys looked like actors out of one of those embarrassing 50's teen-age movies. The crowd's disapproval was palpable.

Photo by Justin BeahmUndaunted Link Wray and the Ray-Men, fronted by this lanky guitarist with an impenetrable sneer, began to play. Link's sneer was even more pronounced in the way he sang and especially in what he played: loud crunchy power chords filled with fuzz and distortion. This was an offense to the well-dressed and presentable crowd and wanted something more mod (whatever that was) and demanded it loudly between songs. Soon the audience was jeering and throwing trash on stage to register their disapproval. Some even threw their ice cream cones. The heart of the crowd thundered even louder than the music: This isn't music, this is caca!

As Link Wray and the Ray-Men left the stage to the derision of those assembled, I was struck with an epiphany:

Screw the violin. I want to play the guitar and be just like Link Wray!

The Rest of the Story

Really now...who is Link Wray?


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The Missing Link
a poem by Marion Francis O'Shaughnessy 

I asked myself: "Is this memory, 
Is any memory real 
Or is the past more tangential 
Than tangible?" 
Sometimes we need to make the trip 
To find out, 
To brave the elements 
And the twin threats 
Of failure and disappointment 
In order to excavate 
What is past 
But refuses to die. 
So in the ruins of my past 
I recognize the moment 
and question the necessity of time. 
But the zeitgeist rises 
From the ashes of what has been 
And I wept to learn his name, 
To discover the name I have always known and cherished. 
From the native soil 
And the foreign land 
He comes robed in the reality of the present 
And scented with the perfume of the past. 
Thus will my eyes behold 
And my ears devour 
The cataclysm of his coming, 
His return, 
Indeed 
His resurrection, 
If only in my own heart. 
The judgment comes 
But none are judged 
And all the victims hunger for their own purification 
In this Purgatory 
We have created and occupied 
For such a long time. 
A guitar is not like a violin 
At all.

Courtland Township, The Day of the Dead, 2 November, 1997
Copyright (c) 1997 Marion Francis O'Shaughnessy