ANTHEM is coming, chapter 42

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 42 (day 6):

DARK STAR
Written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia
Performed by the Grateful Dead
Recorded live at Fillmore West, San Francisco, California 1969
Drummer: Mickey Hart

“My name is Molly. I’m a friend of your brother’s. Drew.”
Jo Ellen was concerned. “Is everything all right?”
“With Drew, yes. With us, no.”
Molly described their dilemma while Jo Ellen listened.
“I just happened to stop home to pick up some files,” she said. “Can you come to my office? I’m in the Castro. Do you have a pencil for the address?”
They were sitting in the waiting room when Jo Ellen returned. She ushered them into a small office, barely big enough for the five of them. Stacks of file folders lined the desk and more stacks on the floor threatened to topple over.
“I’m new here,” she said. “This is my first job out of law school. I’m not sure I can help you. We do civil rights litigation, mostly violations of the first, fourth, eight, and fourteenth amendments.”
“They’ve all been violated,” said Flo.
“Excuse me, who are you?”
“We’re the veterans. Moral support,” said Flo.
“We’re the adults,” said Eddie.
Jo Ellen raised an eyebrow and continued, speaking directly to Molly.

With apologies to Deadheads everywhere, I’ll confess that I was not a fan, and that I didn’t learn to be a fan as I wrote ANTHEM. I wanted a Grateful Dead song to reflect where we were in the story, and to honor the Dead, as they are a San Francisco band. You’ll find several San Francisco bands in this last section of the book, as we head for the end/finale.

“Dark Star” is a perfect title for a chapter where that dark star is revealed after so many hints and smaller peeks into just what Molly and Norman have been hurtling toward. Not to give it away, but to say that I did learn to appreciate the jam that is “Dark Star” and could imagine how the music could live on today as something quite special.

The version of “Dark Star” above is the jam recorded in 1969 at Fillmore West, which is where Molly and Norman may well be headed before it’s all over; keep reading. It was fun to research San Francisco bands, and Bill Graham’s Fillmore West.

It was meaningful to walk across the Berkeley campus and stand in the places where so much student activism had been born and nurtured, from the Free Speech movement in 1964 (which opens ANTHEM’s first scrapbook) to the People’s Park protest in 1969. More stills from ANTHEM scrapbooks:

I needed to know locations for various other venues in 1969. The internet and interviews can only take you so far. So I went to San Francisco for research and to get a feel for the Haight, the Berkeley campus, the San Francisco Zen Center, the Castro, city hall, the jail, pawn shops and coffee shops and more.

1969 was a pivotal time in this country, and a trippy time to be in San Francisco. I took my research and used my imagination for much in these chapters. The Grateful Dead took me there.

Chapter 42.

ANTHEM is coming, chapter 41

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 41 (day 7):

I-FEEL-LIKE-I’M-FIXIN’-TO-DIE RAG
Written by Joe McDonald
Performed by Country Joe and the Fish
Recorded at Vanguard Studios, New York, NY 1967
Drummer: Gary “Chicken” Hirsh

Flo repeated himself. “Our objective was to destroy the Viet Cong’s headquarters on the border of Cambodia in Vietnam. We used canopies to drop heavy equipment — jeeps, trucks, howitzers, supplies. And men. Eight hundred forty five of us flew under the silks that day, in two 26-second drop zones — that’s all the time we had.
“Let me tell you, you stand in the doorway of a C-130 aircraft 1500 feet in the air and leap into the turbulence of the propeller wash at 130 knots — your heart flies right out of your body. You have to jump out the door so you can catch it.”
The pride in Flo’s voice touched Molly in a patriotic way. 
“That’s amazing,” she said. Norman agreed….
Eddie appeared with a bucket of paint. “Flo’s a hero,” he said. “Got the bronze star.”
Flo waved off Eddie’s praise. “I like the uniforms. You shoulda seen me. Sharp.”

Flo and Eddie represent pride in their military service, pride in the men they served with, and pride in the brotherhood of soldiering, a viewpoint much needed in ANTHEM, and one that was important to me to represent, on a personal level as well, since my dad was an air force pilot who flew in Vietnam (you’ll meet him as Colonel Chapman in a future chapter), and I wanted to honor his service. I wanted to honor the soldiers who served.

Chapters 40 and 41 give the reader a window into different ways of serving as well, Eddie on an aircraft carrier as a plane handler, and Flo a “Sky Soldier with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Operation Junction City, 1967,” the only combat airborne mission of the Vietnam War.

From an ANTHEM scrapbook:

There were many ways to serve:

Chapter 41.

ANTHEM is coming, chapter 40

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 40 (day 8):

ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER
Written by Bob Dylan
Performed by Bob Dylan
Recorded at Columbia Studios, Nashville, Tennessee 1967
Drummer: Kenny Buttrey

Performed by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
Recorded at Olympic Studio, London, England and
Record Plant, New York, NY 1968
Drummer: Mitch Mitchell

“So you didn’t have to fight in the jungle?”
“It’s a different fight,” said Eddie. “You work seventeen hours a day, seven days a week. Your job is to keep those fighters flying. You live with over two thousand people on your ship, and sleep in bunks stacked six high. You take care of your aircraft so the pilots can complete their missions successfully. You hope they return. You live in a twilight zone in the middle of nowhere, and eat a lot of powered hamburger.”
“How did you get there?” asked Norman.
“They take you there! Let me tell you, it’s a weird feeling when you’re on an airplane and you’re surrounded by only sea to the horizon everywhere you look, and then, suddenly, you see this speck down below, and that’s where you’re supposed to land. You start dropping like a rock. And when your plane hits that deck, you feel like a rock. You hope the handler is gonna grab the arresting wire on the first try and you’re not going to end up in the ocean!”
“Wow!” said Norman, clearly impressed.
Molly felt herself changing her mind about San Francisco. She pulled her rubber band off her wrist and began to gather back her hair.
“It was the biggest experience of my life,” said Eddie. “A nineteen-year-old kid joining the navy to see the world.”

The missing Barry loves Hendrix, so of course we need Hendrix in ANTHEM, and all those notes he bends with that wailing Stratocaster. He makes his appearance in the title of Chapter 40, singing Dylan’s lyrics. “There must be some way out of here” / Said the joker to the thief / “There’s too much confusion / I can’t get no relief…”

There were many watchtowers in play during the war in Vietnam, including those on aircraft carriers in the South China Sea. So Norman and Molly meet Eddie, who worked on an aircraft carrier, and Flo, who was an army paratrooper — another watchtower — jumping out of a C-130 flown by the air force — another watchtower — and so on and so on.

Another kind of watchtower, from an ANTHEM scrapbook:

and one more:

The watchtowers of war are highlighted in Chapter 40, manned partly by two men I named after the Sixties pop duo Flo and Eddie, two of the original founding members of The Turtles.

Watchtowers have always fascinated me as guardians of whatever they are appointed to protect. In this case, both Eddie Mullin and Florian Finelli are about to accompay Molly and Norman on the last leg of their trip, as they enter, finally, San Francisco and the drama that lies ahead.

Chapter 40.

ANTHEM is coming, chapter 39

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 39 (day 9):

SPACE COWBOY
Written by Steve Miller and Ben Sidran
Performed by the Steve Miller Band
Recorded at Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California 1969
Drummer: Tim Davis

NORMAN

“Drew!” says Molly. “Norman, it’s Drew!”
“You are correct,” says Drew. “I am surprised to see you here.”
“You’re surprised!” says Molly. “Norman! It’s Drew!”
I start to laugh. It’s so good to see someone we know. “What are you doing here?” I ask Drew. “I thought you were going to some air force base.”
“I am going to Vandenberg Air Force Base tomorrow,” says Drew. But tonight we are at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.”
“So I see!”
“I thought you were going to San Francisco,” says Drew.
“We are,” I say. “We are on the way.”
“The Apollo astronauts trained here,” said Drew. “They learned how to identify the thirty-seven navigational stars that their guidance computer uses. This is in case of equipment failure. Inside the observatory, there is a Zeiss refracting telescope in the east dome, so you can see the stars.”
Molly looks like she wants to hug Drew, she is so delighted to see him, but she settles for, “Good for you, Drew.”

Drew is the ultimate space cowboy in ANTHEM, representing the nation’s fervor about the moon landing that’s at-hand. You’ll recognize Drew from COUNTDOWN, where he was 9 years old and wanted to be an astronaut.

It was 1962 and Drew’s hero was John Glenn. Drew carried the book Our Friend the Atom everywhere he went, and spouted off facts about atoms and the atomic bomb, in the midst of his fear about the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Discovering Drew in ANTHEM is an Easter egg for COUNTDOWN readers, but it’s not necessary to know Drew from previous Sixties books, as each book in the trilogy is a stand-alone novel.

The Steve Miller Band came into its own in the early seventies, known better for “Take the Money and Run” or “Fly Like an Eagle,” or “Rock’n’Me” but I love “Space Cowboy” for its insistent beat and straight-ahead guitar hook. And it’s perfect for Drew, and for this chapter at the Griffith Observatory late on a June night in 1969.

Chapter 39.

ANTHEM is coming, chapter 38

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 38 (day 10):

ENTER THE YOUNG
Written by Terry Kirkman
Performed by the Association
Recorded at Columbia Studios (voices) and 
G.S.P. Studios (instruments), Los Angeles, California 1966
Drummer: Ted Bluechel (concert); Hal Blaine (studio) 

MOLLY

Finally we find it, and sure enough, there’s the line, snaking out the door and around the corner. “This is gonna take a while,” says Norman. “I’m bringing Flam.”…
The afternoon sun blazes all over us and everybody sweats. We listen to the talk in line, all about gigs and bands and best places to play around town, who’s playing at the Whisky, the Paladium, or the Ash Grove….
“Why don’t all these rock and rollers have to go to Vietnam?” says a woman with long red hair. “My brother’s got to go.”
I turn my body so I can hear the conversation.'”Barry McGuire was a Green Beret” replies a bearded man with the red-haired woman.
“He’s not a rock and roller,” says the red-haired woman. “Not really.”
A man wearing a hat and carrying a guitar case says, “I happpen to know one of ’em’s a fortunate son.”
“What’s that?” says the red-haired woman.
“His dad’s got money. Or influence. Or both. Listen to the song.”

The original title of this chapter was “Fortunate Son,” a song by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Molly and Norman meet one such fortunate son in the Laurel Canyon chapter of the book and he (and others) goes with them to the hoot at the Troubadour in Los Angeles.

This happens in a cut chapter, Chapter 37A, called “Both Sides Now,” Judy Collins’ version, which will appear at Anthem’s webpage after October 1. If you want to meet the Laurel Canyon musicians, they’ll all be in Chapter 37A, sitting on the porch of the Canyon Store, where Molly and Norman stop for directions after leaving Capitol Records and getting lost trying to find the Troubadour.

Laurel Canyon songs mentioned in 37A are “Our House,” “Monday, Monday,” and the Joni Mitchell rendition of “Both Sides Now.” I wanted to showcase the beginning of the singer-songwriter era, both solo artists and groups such as the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, who were all, at one time or another, in the Canyon.

In the meantime, here is Molly and Norman, in Chapter 38, at the Troubadour, to listen to a band that Molly has long loved… not hard to figure out who, if you’ve been following along or listening to the Chapter 38 song, “Enter the Young.”

I had wanted “Enter the Young” to start ANTHEM, with its lyrics, “Here they come, some are laughing, some are crying, some are doing, some are trying, some are selling, some are buying, some are living, some are dying, but demanding recognition one by one.”

When we put the permissions budget together, the lyrics to “Enter the Young” were prohibitively expensive, and so we cut them and I’ve used it instead as a chapter title, with some acknowledgement of the lyrics inside the chapter.

In researching the Los Angeles/Hollywood section of ANTHEM, Jim and I spent some time there with son Zach, who lives in Hollywood and works at Universal Music Group, as a guide.

Zach took us to Capitol Records, to the Griffith Observatory (coming up), and to a raucous night at the Troubadour, where I sat in the balcony, and then stood at the stage, where Molly stands in this chapter, listening to the Association sing her songs, while at the same time, some truth about their trip begins to dawn on her in a real way.

Joy and heartbreak in the same moment, and isn’t that sometimes how life is?

Chapter 38.