Vinyl of the Month – Wired by Jeff Beck

It was a sad day when I heard that Jeff Beck had passed away.  Literally a guitar Superstar.  Was I a fan?  I would have to say not really.  I did not go out and buy his latest albums or mark his website in my browser.  I did buy Wired and Blow by Blow though many years ago.  Wired was Jeff Beck‘s 3rd solo album and was released in 1976. So why am I picking Wired as this month’s Vinyl of the Month?  Sit back my little padawan and let me regale you with my story.

In the summer of 1979, I found myself working at Mo Ranch (a resort for the Presbyterian church in the Texas Hill Country near Kerrville) again with my high school best friend, Bill.  We had just graduated from High School, and it was our last job and last time we would hang out with each other for quite a while.  We were both going off to different Universities, me heading eastward to the University of Southern Mississippi and he headed west to Texas Tech.  During our senior year, Bill had gotten heavily involved in the drug scene and was buddies with a drug dealer.  He was getting free cocaine and had become an addict.  I did not do serious drugs, only weed for me, and this caused a rift between us and we grew apart, only occasionally hanging out during our last couple of months before graduation.

When we headed to Mo Ranch for a second summer of work, I was hoping we could reconnect.  It took a couple of weeks for Bill to completely detox from his addiction.  He suffered through withdrawals every night trying to get to sleep. Eventually he beat the addiction because he could not get his hands on any drugs sequestered in the Hill Country.  We did drink a lot, so that probably helped but it also turned him into an alcoholic.  We became close friends again.  I was Moose and he was Allah (our summer nicknames and a story for another time).

TNT 8-track player

So, what’s all this have to do with Jeff Beck and Wired?  That summer, instead of working as a housekeeper like I had the first summer at Mo, I spent my initial weeks in the laundry room by myself washing towels and sheets with an old-fashioned washer.  I can only guess that the previous washing person had quit, possibly because the washer was the kind where you fed the towels through two roller pins to squeeze the water out before putting in a dryer or hanging on a clothesline.  Really old stuff for even 1979.  During my exile to laundry land, a fellow staff member loaned me his 8-track player and Jeff Beck’s Wired 8-track tape.  I played that 8-track tape constantly, over, and over to the point I knew every song and every solo.  Whenever I hear the album now, I think back to Bill’s addiction and that laundry room washing, drying, and folding towels.  I eventually got back to my normal job of housekeeping which entailed cleaning guest’s rooms, changing out towels and linens and generally sweeping and vacuuming like any hotel maid would do.

Left – Me, Right – Bill

After a rocky start, that summer became a memorable one reconnecting with Bill.  I didn’t see Bill until six years later when we both ended up in Dallas Texas with jobs.  He an accountant, me a computer science software developer.  He was still smoking weed and I declined his offer to partake.  I had quit that stuff after we graduated high school.  After that initial meeting I lost track of Bill for many years.  Apparently, his drinking problem got worse and after his third Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) offense, he was thrown into the Texas State Penitentiary.  In Texas, on your third DWI, you get a minimum of two years in prison.  Not country jail or city jail, the big boy jail.  Bill disappeared off the radar and I had no idea where he went until he showed up at one of my band’s gigs an ex-con.  I didn’t keep in contact with him after that.  I learned a couple of years later that he has been found dead in his apartment.  I never found out from what and I never got a chance to apologize to him for treating him badly when he showed up at the band gig.  A sad ending for an extremely smart guy who had perfect grades all though high school and college.

So, Jeff Beck’s Wired album stirs both good and bad memories but memories just the same.  For that I chose it as this month’s Vinyl of the Month.

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