Every life has odd bits of symmetry, and this is mine: Most of my best friends have been named Mike.
There has been Mike S., Mike F., Mike G., Mike M., another Mike S. — same last name as the first guy — and Mike H. (I’ve had two other best friends who also shared a last name, but neither was a Mike. I digress.)
Mike G. — Glick to almost everyone — is quite simply my oldest friend, and not because today is his birthday. Facebook has been reminding me of that all day, and even though I’m late to Glick’s party, this is one instance when a Facebook message or post just isn’t going to cut it.
We met in the winter of 1972 as managers for our high school’s track and field team, Glick a sophomore and me a freshman. We had much in common. We came from similar backgrounds, families in which money was tight. We loved sports. We loved the radio. We loved the music we heard on the radio. We loved irreverent humor. We looked at the world in much the same way. Oh, yeah, and neither of us had any game with the ladies.
Little has changed between then and now. We still love all those things. We still look at the world in much the same way. We both have families now, but our wives probably still will insist neither of us had any game.
Any friendship that lasts 42 years is full of little flashbacks. Cookie Rojas’ 1968 baseball card is one. “The Rockford Files” theme song is another.
I thought of Glick last week as I prepped for a colonoscopy (and he will laugh at that). My instructions were to suck on a sour green apple Jolly Rancher candy if I didn’t care for the taste of the stuff cleaning out my system. In my head, thanks to Glick, you say “Jolly Rancher” and I hear “Jolly Raunchy.” He called them that years ago when he stuffed his mouth full of them and washed them down with ketchup. You really had to be there.
Anyhow, back to the music. Glick has always been a 45 guy. I’ve always been an LP guy. I vividly remember him tipping me to a 45 he loved in the summer of 1977, in the last few weeks that I lived in our hometown. It was “Strawberry Letter 23” by The Brothers Johnson.
What I didn’t know then, and found out years later, was that it was a cover. I didn’t know about Shuggie Otis then, but I know about him now.
Enjoy the original, my man.
“Strawberry Letter 23,” Shuggie Otis, from “Freedom Flight,” 1971. It’s available on CD, packaged with “Here Comes Shuggie Otis,” his 1969 debut LP. Also available digitally.
Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.