On The Night Before


… Brothers & Sisters … Can i tell you a story?

Its about truth & life and its about me and the world that has called me forth.

When I was young and living in Detroit, I was prone to chronic earaches. they would last for several days and they would be excruciatingly painful. I cried and gritted my teeth and rolled in bed with the pillow under my head and then over my head as they were especially devastating at night. i learned at a young age how to go without sleep and how to project out of my body in order to survive. i didnt know what i was doing, i just knew that “the other place” was pain free.

on one particular night when i was 11 years old, i was in the middle of a very painful night when the tears and silent cries for mercy had given way to the comforting embrace of “mother sleep”, i was awakened by the sound of the loudest explosion i had ever heard. i woke up in the darkness of my bedroom, my brother john sleeping in the twin bed on the other side of the room. i was sure that the house was on fire or worse. i cried out for my mother a number of times, i couldnt understand why nobody was rushing in to save us. finally my mother opened the door and said “whats the matter, jojo?” i said “what was that loud banging noise?” she told me that she had heard nothing and that i probably had a dream. then she came over to tuck me back in. she asked me what that wet spot was on my pillow and pajamas and i told her i didnt know. when she turned on the bedroom light, she looked at me and gasped. my pillow and my pajamas were covered with blood! i freaked out and started crying and she just held me and changed my clothes. she called the doctor and made an appt for the next day.

it turned out that the ear infection that i had been harboring, had finally erupted in my head and that was the explosion i heard in my sleep.

the next day at the doctors office he showed me a needle about 12″ long and told me that if the infection hadnt burst when it did, that he would have used that needle to go into my ear and burst it himself. i hated the sight of him and never saw his face again.

i was told not to go to school for the rest of the week and to stay on the sofa and rest. while i was resting, my father bought me books to read, and puzzles to play, and a lot of cool stuff to do. on the next afternoon i was reading one of those books titled ‘the moon’. as i was reading, there was a strange sound coming from my brand new little green transistor radio. the dj was screaming “the beatles are coming – the beatles are coming” in perfect paul revere fashion. i had no idea what he was talking about. it was at that instant that i first head the opening chords to ‘i want to hold your hand’. it was a moment that without prior warning, became unforgettable. i turned the radio up full blast. when it was over, i just laid my head down and wondered what it was. i couldnt wait to hear it again. i didnt know what they looked like, nothing. just the sound of that one song ringing in my wounded ear.

when i look back on this, i see it as a series of events that were inevitable. i see the ear explosion as a clearing out of the muffled noise that had become so familiar. i see it as a blowing away of the old sounds that were to become instantly obsolete the next day. i see it as a somewhat frightening bloodletting for my parents who had no idea how this music and this band would influence my life and theirs in the years to follow.

john lennon wrote “was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure”.

my threshold for pain is extremely high.

my appreciation of pleasure equally powerful.

thanks to my ears

and special thanks to the beatles …


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