Lyric of the Week: ONLY IN MIAMI BEACH
Another Saturday night in South Florida
Me and Mitch driving along down I-95
We’re singing Roadhouse Blues at the top of our lungs
Talking about the cars the girls and all that jive
We’re gonna take her to the floor and let that four fifty five rip
We’re gonna check out all the action down on the strip
We’re gonna play that rock’n’roll till the end of the night
And crash out on the beach in the morning
It’s all right
I’m behind the wheel of my Oldsmobile
Lookin’ to spend big bucks on cheap thrills down on Biscayne
Make the wrong kind of deal and you’ll be floating face down in the bay
That golden girl never said goodbye
Now she’s getting married to this guy
With a beard and a big black hat
But all my old friends
They’re coming back for the summer down from New York City
This is where it’s at!
I gained my strut back so now I’m walking like a man
On my feet
To the beat
Dance to a silent band
It’s only a matter of slipping away whenever I can
Slip away man
I’m here for the sun
I’m here for the fun
I’m here for the good times
And I know the good times are never out of reach
I’ll just be killing time waterskiing and getting a tan
It’s life man
Only in Miami Beach
©2016 The Hesh Inc.
From the rooftop of the Saxony Hotel, once owned by some of my relatives.
I first went to Miami Beach with my father and sister during winter break of my junior year in junior high school. We stayed at the legendary Saxony on Collins Avenue, facing the beach. We had left frozen New York late at night and arrived in Miami after midnight; it was warm and rainy. But the full impact of being on another part of the planet, where it was summer in December, didn't hit me until I drew the curtains back the next morning from my room on the 10th floor of the hotel. What a view! And then it was downstairs, to the beach and pool, where I'd spend much of the next week in this altered state in an alternate universe.
Five years later, in my senior year of high school, a whole crew of guys and girls from the Hebrew Academy of Greater Miami came to spend the year at my yeshiva and its sister seminary in Jerusalem. They brought with them a whole Miami modern Orthodox Jewish rock'n'roll vibe, which filled a void that had opened up in my soul in the preceding four years since moving with my family to Israel. Some of these guys and girls became my good friends (and I'm actually still in touch with some of them even today, thanks to the miracle of social networking). It was a whole year of partying it up thanks to these people, and when they left Israel on June 1, 1983, the yeshiva dorm seemed empty and silent ... devoid not only of their physical presence but of the vibe and spirit that they had brought with them.
Then, after finishing high school, my family sans my father got on a plane in Israel and flew westward. We set up camp in my grandmother's house in Wilmington, Delaware, but I was itching to fly south and rejoin my friends in Florida. At the end of July, I did just that. I had a ticket for a week, and I stayed at various friends' houses while there. I had such a good time that I took the liberty of extending my ticket for another week. My mother was not amused. So I stayed a little longer, this time at the house of one friend who was also a musician prone to deep thinking and introspection, not unlike myself. We were both trying to figure out what we wanted to do with ourselves - he wanted to ditch Florida and go to Israel, while I wanted to do exactly the opposite.
I was only weeks away from turning 18, legally adult. I could have extended my ticket yet again and stalled my parents till they would no longer have legal authority over me. And then I'd have stayed in Miami, going to work, playing in bands, perhaps eventually going to school ... and NOT going back to Israel where my life would not be my own for three years while I served in the IDF.
But no. I was too good of a good boy to do that to my parents. I ended up going back to Wilmington, and from there to Long Island and the Jersey Shore for the remainder of the summer, and then back to Israel right before Labor Day. It was one of the worst decisions I ever made ... and I didn't even make it, I just sort of defaulted into it.
I said it to my friends many times, and I've hinted at it in my writing. But let me say it here for the record: I SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN MIAMI. I SHOULD HAVE STUCK UP FOR MYSELF AND FOUND MY OWN WAY IN LIFE, INSTEAD OF INTERNALIZING MY PARENTS' FEARS THAT I'D ONLY GET INTO TROUBLE BY MYSELF.
Well. I did end up giving three years of my life to the State of Israel, after a failed attempt to study in a higher yeshiva in Jerusalem. The day before I was transferred out of basic training to my artillery unit, I composed this song as I waited in line to return my equipment to the quartermaster during the heat of the July day in Shavei Shomron. I was sorely missing my friends back in the USA, especially those in Florida, and I was wishing I had made the decision to stay with them instead of being where I actually was.
Musically, the song is loosely based on Jackson Browne's "Boulevard," filtered through the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" (I was listening to a lot of the Doors' music that summer for some reason, which is ironic, considering the band's misfortunes in Miami). Never played on anything other than air guitar. And as with many of my songs from that era, some of my friends may recognize themselves in the lyrics.
I'd love to get back to Florida one of these years. Every winter in New Jersey underscores that sentiment. Maybe, just maybe ... [sigh]