Rockin’ in La Plaza Major (de Madrid)

Summer of 1977

Madrid, Spain

Funny, the ancient memories that slowly come back to life as we get older and have more time to reflect.   Sometimes all it takes is an old tune not heard in 40 years to bring things back to life.   Incredible to think it has been that long since I lived in Madrid.

Real Summer jobs were no fun.  Sure, the paychecks were more steady than playing rock and roll in smokey bars, but life’s so short and even at 17, I knew you had to grab your fun while the going was good and carefree.

And that sure was the case in Madrid back in the day.   No restrictions on the weekend and pocket change got you a Metro ticket to the heart of the city.   So, I’d drag my acoustic guitar in its case and head down to the old center to play for “bar cash”.

Back in the day, I had “big”, blonde hair and a bit of a wild attitude and so when I emerged from the depths of the underground, suddenly the streets were alive with people on their way to restaurants, discos, and cafes and I knew it was just a flight of stairs up and through the grand arches into the old Plaza Major.

Past the steamed up window of the place that sold fresh Calamare sandwiches, a place almost impossible to resist.   Then a little more into the center and I’d open my guitar case and let the old rock n roll tunes begin…

Johnny b Good, some Lynyrd Skynyrd, and a few classic tunes from the Stones.

… and some Aretha, naturally.   “R   Eee  S  Pee  Eee  See  Tee!”

but, Johnny b Good was by far, the crowd favorite.

Easy and recognizable tunes and before long, I’d have a sweet crowd of about 40 to 50 people merrily singing along.   It really didn’t matter that I kinda sucked…   so long as I projected the right energy, all was good.   There was always an extrovert in the crowd who helped me woo the crowd.   Always.

… and then, the pile of Pesetas and coins would build and when things finally died down, I’d smile and thank the crowd and not infrequently, would be invited to party in the area at the outdoor cafes, the nearby discos, or the Flamenco places that were around the corner down cobblestoned streets and a couple of flights down in some dungeon.

Magic was always in the air on the weekend in Madrid.

And as I sit now in my camping chair in my garage high over the valley, here in this remote part of Colorado enjoying another glorious sunset over the mountains in the distance, I smile as I reflect of a simple and carefree chapter of my youth, now long, long gone.

… well, not in spirit.

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