October 5

31 years ago today I embarked on the longest music free period of my entire life.

The occasion was my induction into the US Air Force basic training at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio Texas.

Beginning on that day we were stripped of all our war worldly possessions (including Walkman and cassette tapes), given uniform clothing, shaved bald and reprogrammed.

For the first few of those six weeks we were under constant supervision and training. As the days progressed we were given more and more latitude to carry out the orders and instructions we were given to the best of our abilities.

When not being marched or made to stand perfectly still we were trained how to do everything from how to hold silverware how to fold t-shirts how to scrub toilets and how to shine shoes.

At the halfway mark, we were presented a challenge: our training instructor would come to our dormitory first thing Saturday morning and do a full inspection. If all was in order we would be given a day of on base liberty to do with whatever we wished.

Luckily, my flight held it together and we were granted a day off.


We scattered to the four winds while remaining within the confines of the base. People went to movie theaters, played basketball, library books we read… and I found a stack of records at the community center.

There was a moderate selection of LPs and, for an hour at a time, you could take an LP into a small closet sized room, drop a needle on to the well worn vinyl, and listen through provided headphones.

I carefully perused the rack of records until my finger fell on the only Beatles album in the lot: the soundtrack to Yellow Submarine:

I had never been the further from home at that time in my life and, in this oasis of scratchy vinyl and crappy headphones, that record made me feel and close again to my friends and family.

Yellow submarine had never been among my favorite Beatle albums, a few good songs on side one and the original film score on side two…

but on that day it was!

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