H is for Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
We’re going to revisit that high school friend I mentioned, K, to discuss this one. A lot of the songs from this artist still feel like they were the soundtrack of one aspect of who I was as a high schooler. We’ll discuss the other, harder side when we get to P for Pantera but for now, let’s talk about the influence this friend had on me.
For starters, I was into pretty mainstream kind of stuff but was eager to branch out. For example, I liked most new rock at the time but also loved the Doors and ska bands too. This friend, K, was the one who really got me into liking Fleetwood Mac and Chicago more and then, Herb Alpert. He had a thing for the cheesy instrumental sound. It was super 70s, which he also loved. K really liked Lincoln Continentals, the big floaty ones, and it was his dream to buy one with an 8 track player. The first car, he got from an older woman in a neighboring town about 45 minutes from home. We drove out to the sticks, paid her roughly 1500 dollars and he was in absolute heaven. It looked about like this:
Sadly, “Mark” as he dubbed it, would not last. It had some sort of electrical fire in the dash and went up in flames about 2 miles from home, a couple weeks after he got it. I distinctly remember two things from the incident: he called me nearly in tears from our friend’s house to tell me what happened and then the next day, he did not come to school except to somberly walk into my history class and set a nearly charred textbook on my desk. I had left it in my backpack in his trunk and it did not survive. The bookbag did but it smelled like burning plastic and metal and I had to throw it away.
I didn’t really understand his tears over the thing but looking back, the car represented so much more. His home life was not stellar so this vehicle was his escape. We rode through the backroads of the greater Orlando area playing music at high volumes. This one I know we played the heck out of:
After the car fire, we went back to driving my parents’ Mazda 929, which had mostly become mine by this time. It was perfectly fine but was not the accessory to the life K wanted to live. It was subpar to the hoopty-ness of the Lincoln.
Soon after, K began the search for a new car and settled on a much nicer one: the 1979 Bill Blass edition, which he dubbed “Connie” for Continental:
Who knows why we’re drawn to certain things; I feel like they might be engrained into the very fiber of our beings. This was just his thing. He liked disco and big hoopty cars and the funky sounds of the Tijuana Brass. I have a lot of fond memories of driving around in this car and getting looks from people. This was the era of his hooker documentary. Sounds crazy, I know, but he had this idea of going down to OBT and interviewing the “ladies of the night.” He figured the pimpmobile might lure them in. In actuality, none of them wanted to talk to us stupid kids. Did make for some fun stories though, of angry women in slutty lingerie and high heels throwing their make-up compacts at our retreating taillights. We were so dumb back then, I tell you. But who isn’t at 16/17?
I mean, we never made great choices, really. We drove too fast on I-4; we went to Denny’s late at night and drank shitty coffee and smoked Sampoerna clove cigarettes; we skipped fourth period to host “sophisticated” dinner parties with caviar and pate, which we hated. Add onto it sips of sambuca and we were just dumb kids pretending to be someone else.