ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969
This is Chapter 32 (day 16):
MAGIC CARPET RIDE
Written by John Kay and Rushton Moreve
Performed by Steppenwolf
Recorded at American Recorders, Studio City, California 1968
Drummer: Jerry Edmonton
Wavy appears in front of the buses and yells, “Who’s in charge?”
“Nobody!” comes a chorus from everyone.//
Wavy climbs onto the roof of the Kitchen Bus.
“Let’s run one at a time!” he yells. “Use a stopwatch! Fastest time’s the winner!”
“That’s for sissies!” yells the driver of the Hospital Bus.
“That’s Ken,” Red tells me. “Watch out for him. He’s a terrible driver.”
“Let’s go!” yells Ken. “Once around the meadow, turn around at the flag, and get back here first!”
The rest of the crowd surges onto the bus roofs.//
“Start your engines!” This despite the fact that all engines are revving and ready to go….//
The roof of my bus is swarming with bodies and it sounds like a stampede is going on. The whole bus rocks and I open my arms to catch a kid who slides down the front windshield.
“Wait a minute!” I say again.
“Who’s bus it this?” yells a girl in pigtails.
“Florsheim’s!” yells Red.
“Well, come on, Florsheim! Floor it!”//
Wavy gets on his knees from his perch atop the Kitchen Bus and points straight ahead with both arms. “The United States of America! And step on it!”
This was a great song for dancing or daydreaming to, pretending to, being totally crazy to. “I like to dream, yes, right between my sound machine,” inspired by John Kay’s new stereo system. hahaha.
It includes that rad base line by Rushton Moreve, which provided the engine that propelled us through the song. Norman has such an engine in Chapter 32… in fact, there are a whole lot of engines revving up to be quite the sound machine for the bus race in the Aspen Meadow on the summer solstice in 1969.
I took this chapter from an actual event that Stewart Brand writes about in the Whole Earth Catalog. It made me laugh out loud, and I decided immediately that Norman needs to be part of this amazement — all the buses from all the communes in a bus race in the Aspen Meadow, kids riding atop their magic carpets, crazily, happily, full of mayhem and joy and almost crashing… finally coming back to earth.
The “Ken” that’s mentioned is Ken Kesey, who had a much more fleshed-out role in this chapter that was cut for length, and for… well, for a middle-grade novel. I gave some of his lines to Wavy, and I slipped Kesey’s name back in, as the driver of the Kitchen Bus, but surely he would have been driving Further, which was there as well, also excised in the revision… “We’re dropping too many names here at the expense of story.” Frump.
But you can see a picture of Kesey on Further in Scrapbook 1 of ANTHEM.
And Molly has to decide in this chapter, if she’s on the bus, or off the bus… something the entire book seeks to resolve as the story continues.