I first heard this album when I was in the army, stationed in Heidelberg, Germany. One of the guys I worked with, Lou, bought the album and played it six times on the day he bought it. I didn’t mind. I liked it. Over the years I’ve read a lot of bad reviews for the album. I still don’t mind. I still like it.
I bought four more of the groups albums over the years, but I felt that each one was weaker than the last. They weren’t bad…except It’s A Beautiful Day…Today. It was pretty bad. When that one came around David LaFlamme, a founder of the group, was gone. I believe that was their last album on the Columbia label.
I listen to the album fairly often, and each time I do, I think at least fleetingly of Lou. We worked in the same office, Staff Message Control for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAREUR and Seventh Army. We were all thankful that we weren’t in Vietnam. We also did just about anything we could to avoid being transferred there. That happened to one of the people in our unit, though I don’t remember his name. Of course as soon as he got his orders,the speculation started that he was really an undercover CID (Criminal Investigation Command) officer who had been spying on us. Before you ask, I don’t know why it is CID and not CIC…it’s the Army, go figure. Anytime something out of the ordinary happened, we put it down to CID having someone undercover in our unit.
Anyway, Lou and I would spend some of our time off hanging out. In good weather it wasn’t unusual for us to go into the old quarter of town, buy a bottle of wine, and then go down to sit on the riverbank and drink the wine. Lou would go on about how he wanted to go back to New Jersey, find a girlfriend, let his hair grow out, and sit around listening to music and smoking dope. It was the height, or maybe the depth, of his ambition.
Lou was able to get marijuana in Heidelberg. He got it often enough that he was paranoid; so much so, that everyone was a potential CID agent in his mind. That was probably good. He wasn’t busted while he was there. He rotated back to the states and was discharged about a month before I left Heidelberg. I never heard from him after he left. I hope he found a girlfriend and grew his hair, but I hope he didn’t drop out.