I can’t remember exactly where or when I met Jimmy Ringgold; he’s one of those guys that it just seems like you’ve always known. And yet the man is full of surprises. Just a few months ago, he showed up at Open Mic Night to play a few tunes on the piano – a first for him, a treat for us.
Jimmy and his beautiful wife Judy are fine friends and good people. We have similar tastes in music – often, we show up at the same concerts in Richmond.
Here’s a post from Jimmy about an important era in his life, and the soundtrack that went with it.
I was 19. I had been dancing in the basement with my friends to the Four Tops, Temptations, Otis Redding, being all happy and innocent. I was privileged to attend a college preparatory school who actually had these bands for proms and dances.
I knew the spiritual side of music, not the technical. I managed a few folk groups, and although I never had the talent or discipline for instruments or vocal ability, I was fully submerged in gleaning emotion from a good performance. As The Shenandoah Trio (my most talented clients) played their last song (Softly As I Leave You) at Notre Dame College, each player walked down three different sets of steps finishing the song at the back of the auditorium. I was still up front and I watched as they walked. The audience, mostly girls, cried uncontrollably and it was that EXACT moment I understood musical power.
My youth and innocence ended abruptly!
Cosmo’s Factory by Creedence Clearwater Revial was the next phase and defining album. CCR’s 1970 record represented the chaos of the time for me.
John Fogerty was in a prolific period and they were from California, where all the good music was being born. They were homespun, American, and could stay in a pocket for 11 minutes, like on their cover of Marvin Gaye’s Heard It Through the Grapevine. Vietnam was a year-long tour for me; I needed the music to be longer to shorten my tour of duty.
From a flare lit bunker at night, the lyrics played on a radio: “Run through the jungle” had taken on a very real meaning for two scared kids.
Thought I heard a rumbling calling to my name / Two-hundred million guns are loaded; Satan cries, “Take aim!”
My buddy Epp Ingle played the tape over and over. He was from Illinois, and in that bunker we talked of home. To him, “Looking out my back door” meant he looked forward to getting home.
Just got home from Illinois / Lock the front door, oh boy / Got to sit down, take a rest on the porch
He made it.
He probably sits on his porch still wondering about tambourines and elephants playing in band.
“Long as I can see the light” was the next step for Epp and me as we hitch hiked across the country from Oakland to our homes.
Guess I got that old traveling bone / though I’m going, going / I’ll be coming home soon
“Who’ll stop the rain”; it meant who will stop our fear.
I went down Virginia / seeking shelter from the storm
Well, I did come down. And I found my shelter.
Some did not.