Friday, May 16, 2014

No. 20 – The Analog Kid

Performer: Rush
Songwriters: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart
Original Release: Signals
Year: 1982
Definitive Version: Different Stages, 1998. Why, because it was recorded at The Palace of Auburn Hills in March 1994, and I was there. The inclusion of that version on Different Stages was the first official recording taken from a concert I actually attended.

I always liked The Analog Kid, but when I saw Rush do it live for the first time in 1992, my love of the song became insatiable. So, in 1994 at The Palace, when Rush pulled this one out again, I was in complete shock and going nuts the whole time while everyone around me was thinking, “Uhhhh … this ain’t Limelight.”

When I went to see Rush again a few days later, I couldn’t wait for The Analog Kid, because Scott loved it, too. At one point, he said he’d love it if Rush pulled this one out again (knowing about 1992 when he didn’t see them). I just kept my smile to myself, saying nothing. As I mentioned, half the fun of a concert is the surprise of what song will be played next.

As we drove to Indy from Muncie, Scott said he wanted to make one guess as to something Rush would play, and I said I’d tell him if he really wanted to know. He said he did. OK … “Do they play Tom Sawyer?” Well, believe it or not …

He was kidding, of course. Scott didn’t want to know any more than I did. However, due to a glitch during sound check, the sound guys accidentally hit the button that triggered the rap to Roll the Bones. I just looked at Scott as we both laughed, “Well, there’s another one you know they play …”

The Analog Kid was the third song out of the box, and I couldn’t wait to get to it. As soon as Spirit of the Radio ended, I yelled out, “Here it comes.” With the opening notes, he was going as nuts as I had in the Palace a few days earlier and was again that day.

When Rush finally played The Analog Kid again on the Clockwork Angels Tour, it wasn’t as cool, because Geddy announced it from the stage, thus ruining the surprise. Oh well, things can’t always be the same. You just hope that even though it’s different, it’s good.

It wasn’t with The Analog Kid in 2012, and it wasn’t with golf after a big change in 1983, about the time I first heard this song. I mentioned a long time ago (good ol’ No. 328) that I used to be a big golfer but got out of the game. Expense, as I mentioned, was one reason, but another was bigger.

After I got into the game through sneaking onto the Scioto Country Club course with my friend Mike, I knew I needed my own clubs. I also knew that golf clubs were expensive, and I couldn’t afford them on my own. Fortunately, I knew of a set that was available.

I knew Pop had a set of clubs in a closet upstairs. I also knew they hadn’t been used in at least a decade, because they hadn’t been moved in that long. Well, he certainly wouldn’t miss them being gone, because he probably didn’t know they still were there. I liberated his set of clubs. However, unlike the grand tradition of my family, I told him I did so. He said it was OK.

So I used Pop’s clubs on my outings with Mike and Steve to Bash and Raymond. I took them with me when Mike and I took Scott to camp at Torch Lake. But I didn’t take them with me when I went to Wabash my sophomore year, and that was the turning point of my relationship with golf. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to take them; it’s that I didn’t have them any more.

I’d played with these clubs for three years, and I had a better feel for each one. My game was improving, and I didn’t have to use the ol’ pencil wedge as frequently as I did at first.

My regular play renewed Dad’s interest in golf, and as a way for us to do something together, we played once in a while. Dad liked Blackhawk, which is a course north of Westerville. It was a tough course, so it didn’t help my score any, but it was a nice course, and Dad paid the greens fees, so who was I to complain?

Anyway, we played there one day, with Scott along to drive the cart, when another golfer came upon us and asked to play with us for a hole as a way to play through. He noticed my clubs almost right away. Hey, those are Tommy Kramers, aren’t they? Yeah, I guess. Those things are a collector’s item, you know. No, I didn’t. Well, you need to get them regripped, but those things are worth a lot of money. Huh, well, thanks for letting me know.

He moved on, and we continued to play. On the final hole, I put it all together, cracking a perfect drive that almost cut the corner on the long par-5 18th. With my favorite club, the 5 wood, I ripped another perfect shot, just to the right of the green. I had a pitching wedge for eagle. Other than a drive on a par-3, I’d never had a realistic shot at an eagle on a legitimate course.

My pitching game was not what it could be, but this time I chipped it out of the rough … just past the hole. If it had been a half-inch to the right, it would’ve hit the pin. I had a three-footer for birdie, which I drained—a legit birdie on a legit golf course. I had never birdied a par-5 before.

Unfortunately, that was as good as my golf game got. As we came off the course, the other golfer again approached us on his cart. I’ll give you $300 for those clubs, as is. Naw, those are my clubs, and I like them. Actually, Dad said, those are your grandfather’s clubs, and you probably shouldn’t be playing with them any more.

Keep in mind, again, that everyone knew I had those clubs, and no one cared. It was only as soon as Dad learned that they were worth something, that it became a matter of concern. Well, that sucked.

Dad continued to press the matter after that day, and I finally gave them back, but only after a promise that he’d buy me a set of my own. I thought that was only fair. He was less than pleased, but he relented, just as I relented in giving up the clubs I liberated.

We went to a golf shop near Kingsdale, and I picked out a set that cost about $250. I made the choice—from a narrow range of selections—but I never liked them. They were a bit heavier than my grandfather’s clubs, and I couldn’t get any consistency on my swing the rest of that summer.

I took those clubs with me to Wabash my sophomore year. One fairly drizzly April day in 1984, at a time when Signals was on bedroom record player almost exclusively, I went to a nearby links course and played a round just myself to practice my swing.

For a duffer, the first tee is always the most difficult, because that’s where other people most likely will be watching. You hit a 20-foot worm-burner, and you feel like a schmoe.

At the course in Crawfordsville, I walked to the first tee, with my new clubs and my pullover windbreaker on, and calmly dropped my drive into the rough just next to the green, just like the pros. Hey, maybe these clubs are all right after all.

The reality was I should’ve just picked up my ball right there and gone home, because that was the day’s highlight. I had a chip for birdie but ended up bogeying the hole. I think I might have gotten one par and another bogey, but the rest of the day was a collection of snowmen and triples.

I was so frustrated that that was the only round I played at Wabash, and that summer, as Steve’s golf game so far outpaced mine that it no longer was fun for him to play with me, I stopped playing altogether. The next summer, I went golfing with my uncle Jack in Houston and couldn’t stop hitting chili dippers, which had to be frustrating for him. (Jack has always been an excellent golfer.)

That was the last time—29 years ago—I ever played golf, but really, the last time I ever played was that fateful day at Blackhawk two years before. My game deteriorated to the point where it wasn’t worth the frustration.

The punch line is that Dad kept my grandfather’s clubs for himself—and played with them. I don’t know whether he ever sold them, but I do know that I saw them years later in the basement, the grips all shot. Yeah, we better not have some kid play with those clubs; they’re worth something.

As for my clubs, they were liberated by Scott years ago. He has them in Cincinnati, although I don’t think he plays much. Maybe someday my nephew John will liberate them from his dad’s garage shelves and get into the game the way his uncle once did. Maybe someday he’ll learn serendipitously that they’re collectors items and worth something.

My advice would be to keep playing with HIS clubs.

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