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Posts Tagged ‘Widespread Panic’

It’s only day two and I’m already presented with a conundrum: My life is full of Widespread Panic stories, so which one to tell here? I suppose I should go back to the beginning.

“Driving Song” is off the “Space Wrangler” album, which contributed heavily to the soundtrack of my freshman year at Rhodes College in Memphis. Rhodes was, and still is, a highly academic school. But the 1989/1990 school year occurred before the dawn of the campus-wide alcohol policy. We took our studies seriously, but we took our partying pretty seriously too. There were no rules against open containers anywhere and keg parties in dorm hallways. Music flowed from open windows and doors all day, every day. Students spread blankets in the quad by the amphitheatre and played bongos and drank beer after class (or before, it depended on your level of rebellion). Quite honestly, I’m thankful most of us made it through that year unscathed.

The majority of the freshman girls lived in Williford Hall, a three-story dorm packed with female angst and drama.  The 2nd floor social room became the preferred hangout for my group of friends. There, we played cards, sang loudly, danced, drank and gathered en masse to watch “The New Twilight Zone.” There were always two or three of us in there at any given time, and on the weekends, it could get pretty packed.

This was actually taken our senior year, but most of these faces graced the 2nd floor Williford Social Room freshman year. I’m in the back left corner with the long brown hair and sleeveless shirt.

Our other favorite activity was to take beer, blankets, Frisbees and a boom box to Channel 3 Drive down by the river. Those times were full of loud laughter and great tunes. We had not a care in the world beyond finishing an assignment, catching the eye of our latest crush, or what was for dinner that night at The Rat (the nickname for the school cafeteria).

Near the end of freshman year, Widespread Panic played a show at The Antenna Club, a small but famous dive near campus in midtown Memphis. I went with some friends, but sadly, I only remember snippets of it thanks to the rather large 40 oz beers sold at the bar and the passage of time. I do remember they played “Coconuts,” which made us very happy, and a great cover of The Dead’s “Women Are Smarter.” We danced with wild abandon.

To this day, when I hear a song off “Space Wrangler,” I can close my eyes and see my friends laughing by the river. I can feel the sun on my face and the breeze on my skin. For a few simple minutes, I can release every stress and worry I’m carrying and recapture the carefree feeling of 1989 all over again.

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