By M.J. Moore
The noise on Kevin’s birthday night is music to everybody’s ears–almost: Dad’s in New York so he can’t be in the kitchen with us when after dinner on January 11th the Mom gets that gleam in her eyes and Colleen Marie and I know that’s the sign that Kev’s two new birthday albums are about to be revealed. Earlier in the week the Mom said she’d be out shopping for this and that, and that for Kev’s 15th birthday she wanted to get him some records that were special and she wasn’t positive about her choices, so, she asked Colleen and me what to do. Now we see that she’s taken our advice.
Kev looks just dazzled by this surprise plus cake and other dessert treats: the Mom has wrapped in a lovely way both the newest Santana LP–ABRAXAS–and also the latest two-disc album by the increasingly celebrated hometown group, CHICAGO; and now with CHICAGO III in the house we have their whole output, all three double-disc albums, and hard as I try, I just can’t shake off my sheer amazement that these guys who do such a beautiful job of marrying their trumpet-and-trombone-and-saxophone horn lines to the rock rhythm section that fleshes out the rest of CHICAGO . . . and it’s a 4-man rhythm section with a keyboard guy plus a genius lead guitar player and a bassist and drummer . . . it just seems fantastic to me that our Grandfather was their concert bandmaster when they were students in high school and at DePaul University. Now, Kevin is 15. I wonder if he’ll ever play his alto sax again; he’d played in St. Adrian’s Grammar School band but not in high school; it’d been months since he practiced.
Now what’s really boss is that Kev is automatically all over the liner notes and lyrics and the inside material on the double-disc CHICAGO III LP (like their first two albums this one opened up and featured different stuff), so I get to disappear to my room just off the kitchen with Santana’s ABRAXAS and holy shit for real: I can’t believe the Mom went ahead and bought an album with naked women on the cover.
About 144 times in the past couple months I stood at the Motorola shop and stared forever at what parts I could see on the cover of ABRAXAS; but the shopkeepers had put additional stickers over the bare black and red breasts that now were there in blazing color after Kev removed the plastic from this second Santana release. At the store, you could see the vibrant colorful psychedelic composition of the cover, which looked like Oriental rugs and rainbows and lava-lamps and mythic tales and hippie designs and Mexican or South American daydreams all jumbled together. You could go into a trance just peering at the colors and the shapes of the wings and flowers and serapes and sandals and the skyline itself decorating the panorama on ABRAXAS: but nothing got the eyes focused with more precision than the two female forms dominating the cover . . . a tattooed, red-bodied, flying woman out of some ancient fairy-tale fantasy, and her fingers are pointing toward the heavens and she has wings like an angel . . . but no angels ever seen around St. Denis ever had tattoos on red flesh with an ass just so perfectly shaped and looking so delicious that right there at the dinner table I got a boner and wished I could kiss, squeeze, fondle, play with and just devour that blessedly rounded and sexy-looking rump . . . and the Red Woman (even in all her sideways naked glory) was secondary. Even though her nude form was perched atop a conga drum definitely made of wood as hard as my boner, and even though the fiery Red Woman was thrusting out two breasts that made my mouth water ’cause her tits weren’t tattooed and by looking hard enough, you could see the dark circular nipples and, well — whoever did the painting was a genius ’cause the figure was painted sideways, but you could see both breasts offered up in a sacred way.
I instantly beg Kev to let me “just borrow” his new Santana LP for a while so I can put on the headphones and blast off with “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman.” My plea is transparent to Kev; he knows it’s the album cover I want to pound away with and he’s 15 now so he must be an expert and he’s also too cool to make fun of me or even make a scene at the dinner table about how the ABRAXAS cover is so heavy with sexy colors and naked women (even if it’s a painting I don’t care: they look so damn real it’s frightening). Actually, after unwrapping the LP and being reminded of its racy cover art, Kev had flipped the album over so the front-cover was face down and then way no way would either of the two little ones start giggling or pointing fingers. That’s why it’s easy to ask if I can borrow ABRAXAS for a listen and that’s on-target in a way ‘cause since my own last birthday back in October of ’70, “Black Magic Woman” has been Kev and Colleen’s radio favorite or that’s what I think: then I remember that actually it was during Colleen’s last birthday back in November of 1970–that’s when we started hearing “Black Magic Woman” as the Mom fired up the kitchen radio each school morning.
Lucky for me that Kev truly understands and while he and Colleen Marie go to his basement room to play all 4 sides of CHICAGO III and with the two little ones in front of the TV as the Mom cleans the kitchen, I’m hibernating, headphones on, listening to every track on ABRAXAS. But I hardly hear a thing even though I play it loud and the headphones are A-0K; I hear the pounding of my own heart no matter where I set the volume dial and it’s mostly ’cause the Goddess-type Black Woman on the record cover is sitting there with her naked body just about totally exposed and it’s killing me and I’m loving everything about it. She’s got her head looking upwards toward the bare-skinned Red Woman and I can’t decide what’s best about the black goddess-type: that her legs are spread or that her left breast is the size of a grapefruit and l hate eating healthy crap like that but if l could have her grapefruit in my mouth I’d be a veggie-head and a fruit-freak. What’s absolutely mesmerizing to me is the way the sexuality just drips all over the place: with the sitting black goddess-type woman, her left hand is resting on top of her left knee, which is raised up and ’cause the woman is reclining her upraised left knee seems so inviting and that’s ’cause her right leg is just hanging down and it’s slightly-just-barely tilted to the right and there on her crotch, covering her most secret place, there’s a white dove just perfectly totally still: I hate chicken too but I’d eat the bird alive if I could then lap at and kiss or lick or suck the flesh hidden behind those damn feathers.
But it’s the fully exposed left breast that does me in: it’s huge and rounded and the deep crease between her two tits gives me ideas I’ve never even seen pictures about in Playboy and I love the idea of putting myself, as hard as I can be, smack-dab into that cleavage-crease or whatever it’s called. Of course I’ve no experience at all, but even so, I know that squeezing in there would be a dose of incredible pleasure and I always hear guys all over saying “piece of ass” but thanks to this new picture, I’m now convinced the female breast is the real holy of holies and damn! Suddenly the Mom flings open my door and half-yells that she’s been knocking and knocking and getting no answer and remember I “have to take out the garbage!” I bounce off the ceiling and toss the album cover aside.
Forget that . . . she’s laughing, ’cause I’m blushing like a beet and having had five brothers, the Mom knows every routine about boys and their bodies. She just knows.
(Excerpted from M. J. Moore’s memoir-in-progress: It Don’t Come Easy ~ A Boyhood in the Aftermath of the 1960s.)