Today is the day–way back in 1977–that a legend left us. I was and still am obsessed with Marc Bolan. I always loved his music and his style…everything. Three deaths really effected me between 1977 and 1981 – Marc, John, and Bob. I loved them all. Marc was the first to leave. I remember him and his contribution to music today.
Missing the Mystic – Marc Bolan 1947-1977
In my 1980s-set young adult novel CHASING EMPTY, one of my characters was so obsessed with Marc that his friend always teased him about it. The guy thought he was somehow the reincarnation of the T-Rex lead singer. Here’s an excerpt from the novel…just for fun. (-:
In this excerpt a drunken Trig maliciously enters a party:
“Well, if it isn’t Marc Bolan!” Trig swaggered into the living room. “As I live and breathe.”
“Very funny, Trig,” I replied, dismissing him with a wave of my hand. “It’s about time you got here.” He gave me a boo-hoo pout.
“Did I ever tell you that Billy here thinks he’s the reincarnation of Marc Bolan?” he said, turning to Tamara who was tagging along. He plopped onto the sofa, pushing me along with his hip to give himself more room as he did so. The warm-green pungency of pot enveloped him. I breathed deeply.
Tamara stood in the doorway, a Molson Canadian in her hand. I gave Trig a dirty look for bringing her along.
He shrugged and smiled.
“Who’s Marc Bolan?” she asked. I rolled my eyes in disgust.
“Who’s Marc Bolan!” Trig said, scooching closer to put an arm around my neck. I smelled alcohol when he spoke. “Well, Tamara, he just happens to be the most talented musical genius of the twentieth century. Isn’t that right, Billy-Boy?”
Trig was beyond high, and well on his way to being drunk. His pupils were dilated and his eyes bloodshot. He flashed me a mischievous grin. He was in his attack phase and he had Tamara in his sights.
“Didn’t I tell you to kiss up to my Billy-Boy tonight, Tam?” Trig said, wagging an accusatory finger at her. “And what do you do? You insult him the minute you enter the room. Shame on you!”
“I’m sorry,” she half-smiled before a nervous look spread across her face. “But I don’t know who he is.” She took a swig of beer and continued to linger at the room’s threshold.
“Well, my dear, Marc Bolan is the singer of T-Rex, which is only the greatest glitter-band of all time. That makes him the granddaddy of Punk. And Billy here,” he continued, putting more force on the arm around my neck, “is the self-proclaimed reincarnation of Mr. Bolan.”
Tamara shrugged and entered the room completely. She sat on the floor, with her back against the couch, and nestled between Trig’s outspread legs, resting an arm on his knee. She fixed a nervous grin on her face, which Trig was about to wipe off.
“Do you even realize what I’m telling you, you stunned bitch?” Trig boomed. The four other people in the room stopped their conversations to look at him. “Billy here is a rock and roll legend. You should be worshiping at his feet.”
“Shut up, Trig.” She emitted an unnatural laugh. “You’re stoned.”
I pulled myself away from Trig’s grip. “Give it a rest, Trig,” I said. “Nobody wants to hear it. Just leave her alone.” But I hoped he would tear her apart.
“D’you guys wanna hear how Billy here is the reincarnated Rock God?” he asked the room.
“Sure,” the guy in the corner armchair answered after nobody else would. He was still hiding behind his delicate cobweb of dyed-black bangs and holding a cigarette between his slightly-parted, lipsticked lips. “Let’s hear all the gory details, Trig.”
I was the only one who knew there was nothing to tell. The whole Bolan thing was just a joke we shared in the throes of a magic mushroom trip during a sleepover at my house. We were listening to T-Rex at the time…end of story.
“Okay,” Trig began, as though a campfire had materialized and he was made official storyteller. He leaned forward, shoving Tamara aside. She rested an arm on my knee and I recoiled from her touch. “Billy here once told me, in the strictest of confidence,” he turned and winked at me, “that he believes himself to be Bolan’s reincarnation. Which is a pretty tough trick considering Bolan died three days after Billy’s eleventh birthday. This would mean that, for a while anyway, he was living simultaneous lives.”
They moved in closer. Marcy ducked her head in at the door. I smiled at her.
“Billy felt a sudden jolt one chilly autumn morning as he was riding his motocross to school,” he continued as Marcy came into the room and jumped into my lap, pushing Tamara aside as she did so. She smiled and kissed my cheek.
“Where’s Mike?” I whispered. She raised a finger to her lips to shush me and pointed distractedly to the door, before turning her attention back to Trig. The music streaming in from the dining room changed abruptly from Cabaret Voltaire to Siouxsie and the Banshees. I began tapping out the beat of Hong Kong Garden on Marcy’s forearm.
“Good tune! Anyway, that entire day Billy walked with a swagger, ignoring the direct orders from his pithy little teachers.” He grabbed the beer from Tamara, swilled it down and passed her back the empty. “He didn’t have to listen to them. He was a celebrated Rock Star!”
“Where the fuck’s this going?” I asked. Three people shushed me. It wouldn’t be over until Trig said it was over. I shook Marcy off my lap and went to the wall unit beside the couch for a drink. Several half-empty bottles sprawled out along one of its shelves, the depleted remains of Vicky’s parents’ ransacked booze cabinet. I grabbed the Canadian Club and returned to the couch. Marcy reinserted herself into my lap. Then Trig continued. He had waited patiently for me while everybody else looked on in mild annoyance.
“Billy soon discovered that nobody recognized him as Bolan. He had to tone down or pay the consequences for not following the rules of the little people around him.” He struck air quotes around little people. “He’d been in trouble at school and gotten himself beaten up by his sister…twice. He decided to go back to being himself and temporarily hiding the Rock Star behind his eleven-year old façade.” Trig sighed here, taking a deep, dramatic pause.
“Where are you going with this, Babe?” Tamara asked.
“Tamara, don’t be such a God-damned poser!” He screamed. “Sometimes it’s painful just looking at you. I must be crazy to be with you.” Tamara winced but tried to keep the smile on her quivering lips. She let him continue, her face full of regret.
I took a big pull on the Canadian Club and offered the bottle to Marcy. She declined.
“I was simply trying to explain how much Billy struggles to walk among us.” He turned to face me. “I was trying to get the point across to this dizzy bitch that she should be nicer to my friend.” He put a hand on my knee, patting it several times. “But she enters a room and does nothing to recognize his greatness.” Here it was. I could feel his attack on Tamara culminating like an approaching tidal wave.
“I’m crazy about you, Marc,” he said to me. He stood, reached over Marcy’s kitteny form in my lap and planted a slobbery, drunken kiss on my cheek. “I’m sorry Tamara is such a dumb, stupid cow that she can’t recognize your greatness!”
A snicker emitted from behind the dyed-black bangs in the corner chair. Everybody else was silent; anticipating a fight I knew would never materialize.
“Are you finished?” I asked. He was still leaning over Marcy, his face in mine. His lips formed the word sorry, and it was suddenly clear to me that his attack on Tamara was his apology for earlier ditching me. He began to sway on his feet, attempting to find his balance. I took his face in my hands, made to kiss his cheek, but then shoved his forehead with the palm of my hand. He fell backwards, sprawling on the carpet, laughing.
Mike entered the room at the height of the laughter, with what looked like a martini in his hand. Tamara was the only one not laughing. He gave her his usual greeting of disgust, which only served to complete her hazing, and then glanced toward the sprawled Trig. He plopped down on the floor beside him.
“What’s goin’ on in here?” he asked.
“Your buddy there,” the guy with the bangs piped up, “was just telling us about Billy’s past life as Marc Bolan. Interesting story. I’d choose Bolan too. The guy’s a God!” Mike rolled his eyes. He couldn’t stand T-Rex.
Trig suddenly sprung from the floor, pointing at Bangs. “Aha!” he shouted. “See Tamara!” He pivoted to face her. “Even this guy knows who Bolan is. How the hell does one live through the seventies without knowing who Marc Bolan is? God Tamara, does it hurt to be you…I mean does it actually hurt? Because it’s killing me to know you.”
Tamara jumped to her feet, lost her balance and landed across my knees, knocking Marcy. The room re-erupted in laughter. Marcy shoved her aside and Tamara stormed out of the room, crying.
“Well,” Trig said, more to himself than to his audience. “I guess I won’t be getting anymore free head from Tamara.” He made a gesture of washing his hands, shrugged and walked unsteadily to the wall unit, where he swiped a half-empty mickey of Captain Morgan from the shelf and took a swill.
I laughed, brought the whiskey bottle to my lips and took a hefty swig.
Leaning against the wall unit for support, Trig turned his gaze to me, staring unflinchingly. I smiled.
He tried to smirk. If he hadn’t been drunk and stoned it would have even passed for a smirk. But the only thing that registered on his face for a whole fifteen seconds was regret. Even as the whole room continued to chuckle, he was obviously sick with regret over what he had just done to Tamara. What I really saw when I looked into his unguarded moment was my own ugliness. I filled with self-loathing.
Suddenly I realized the lengths Trig would go to for me. I hated Tamara so much that I never once realized how Trig really felt about her. And I was his best friend until Mike came along…I should have known. The glint of emotion that passed across his face told me he loved her. And yet he just stood there, doing nothing to stop her from running off.
He raised the Captain Morgan to his lips, guzzled from it and returned his gaze to me. The awkward moment passed as he burped and threw his head back in laughter. His laughter made me hate myself even more.
I pretended I didn’t notice his moment of pain and raised my bottle to the ceiling. “Praise the Lord!” I said before taking a hefty pull. “I’m so glad that poser bitch is gone!” Marcy moved from my lap as I rose to my feet.
“I hear ya,” Marcy agreed.
“Yeah,” Trig said in a flat, far-off voice.
“I want to do something, Trig,” I said, trying to change the subject while everyone else in the room looked at us like we were aliens. “This place is dead. Let’s get out of here and do something exciting for a change.”
“You fucking liar,” said Trig. “You don’t want to do anything. You run away from every Goddamned thing in your life but mediocrity, Billy. I’m leaving now and I don’t want you to follow me.” He took a final pull from the mickey and threw the empty bottle into the lamp on the end table. The shade went flying and the ceramic lamp shattered. He walked out.
“Whoa,” Bangs said. “Buddy needs a beer. What’s up with him?” He laughed and turned to the girl beside him to continue his interrupted conversation.
“Don’t worry about it, Billy,” Marcy said. “Trig’s been drinking since eight o’clock this morning. He has no idea what he’s saying. Let’s just go.”
Vicky came rushing into the room. “Where the hell was Tamara going?”
“Who the fuck cares?” I said.
“She left my house in a t-shirt and it’s about minus twenty out there,” she said. “I care.”
“Wow. I guess she’s gonna be cold then, isn’t she.”
“Billy,” Vicky said. “She could die out there.”
“Relax Vick, she’ll be back in a minute. Trig was giving her a hard time again. She’ll get over it and come crawling back. She always does. She’s like a Goddamned Weeble!”
Vicky glared at me and stomped away.
I shrugged and took Marcy’s hand. “Come on. I’m tired of this place. Come on, Mike. Let’s get outta here.”
“I just got here!” said Mike.
“Well stay if you want. But I’m leaving. Your girl’s coming with me too, right Marse?”
“Yeah, I’ve had enough.” She looked at Mike. “You comin’?”
“No. I’m just gettin’ comfortable.”
“Suit yourself.” Marcy and I walked through to the front of the house. On my way past the kitchen I saw Trig leaning out over the sink, his hands pressed against the window, trying to look past his reflection and into the backyard. I entered the kitchen.
“Forget it, Billy. Let him cool down.” She tugged on my arm.
“No, Marse. Let me do this.” She waited at the doorway as I entered the kitchen. I saw the blender, splattered with the remains of a mystery drink, and crushed ice melting on the counter beside it.
“But there’s booze in the blender.” I sang. “And soon it will render…”
Trig’s shoulders dropped and he shook his head. Without turning around, he said, “I hate you, Billy Manning.”
“…That frozen concoction that helps me hang on.”
He faced me, smiling like an altar boy on the verge of corruption. “Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville…searching for my lost shaker of salt.” We sang together. “Some people claim that there’s a wo-man to blame…” I winked at him as he punched my arm. “But I know…it’s my own damn fault…”
“You two are seriously fucked,” Marcy said, shaking her head. “You’re too much alike. Who the fuck sings Jimmy fucking Buffet, anyway?”
“Don’t make me sing Neil Diamond, bitch!” I said.
“She got the way to move me…” Trig sang on cue.
“Gawd!” Marcy said.
“Cherry baby!” we yelled, bursting into laughter. She shook her head once more.
But there were tears in Trig’s eyes.
“Are we okay?” I asked. He shook his head as the laughter slipped from his face. “Why’d you do that, Trig?”
“Because she’s a dumb poser bitch and she deserved…”
“I meant why’d you always let on you hated her and that you were just using her for sex if you really loved her? Why’d you do that to me? Why’d you let me…”
“For fuck sake, Billy…everything is not about you!”
He went to the fridge, opened the door and stuck his head inside. Slamming it closed, he said, “how in the name of fuck could this be a party when there’s no booze in the fridge?”
“Here,” Marcy said, reaching into a two-four on the floor and passing him a warm beer. She stepped back into the hallway and leaned against the wall.
“Where was I?” he said, opening his beer and taking a drink. “How do you expect me to share anything with you? We’re not friends anymore. We used to do everything together…”
“We still can.”
“No we can’t. You have Mike now. And let’s face it, Billy-Boy, putting the two of us together was never a very good idea. We’re like Sid and Nancy…not a good combination. Volatile to say the least.”
“Ha. I guess you have a point there…”
“What the fuck did I just do?” he said, as though he had just realized his mistake. He covered his face with his hands and shook his head.
I placed a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. She’ll forgive you. She always does.”
“I’m such an asshole.” He guzzled half the bottle of beer. “She’s a good person Billy. You don’t know her like I do. So what if she’s a poser. She knows me more than anybody else. That’s what we all want, right…to be known?” His eyes glistened with the threat of more tears.
“Okay. Let’s go find her, Bud. We’ll go outside right now and find her, bring her back to the house. You can apologize and we can restart this party. I’ll even try to be nice to her for a change. Whadaya say?”
“Yeah.” He said halfheartedly. “I guess.”
Marcy rolled her eyes and I waved her off. “You might as well go back with Mike. I’m gonna help Trig find Tamara.”
We put our coats on and walked out into the night. We stood on the porch for a second, adjusting to the temperature change. Looking out at a nearby streetlight, I could see snow floating through the air. It was frigid out. Our breath filled the air in front of us and I felt my nose hairs freeze.
We turned left at the end of the driveway and walked toward the mall. It was only a couple of blocks away and if Tamara were heading home she would have to catch the bus there.
I walked in silence, kicking a path into the light dusting of snow on the sidewalk. I wanted to talk, but I didn’t know what to say. We had grown so far apart. Without drugs to share we seemed to have nothing in common. I waited for Trig to speak.
“I’m so sick of having nothing and being nobody. You know…we all try so hard. We want to say the right things, be with the right people. Why shouldn’t I love Tamara? So what if she’s not a punk? It’s hard being a punk, Billy. Maybe she doesn’t wanna get screamed at every day.”
“Okay, Trig. So if you want to be with her, just be with her. I never said you couldn’t. I don’t have to like her…”
“That’s just the point. Why can’t you like her? Fuck. Don’t you get it? We’re all so busy chasing this thing, trying to be so fucking special.” We left the sidewalk and moved to the street, walking down its center-line. I realized just how drunk Trig was. He had passed right by his argumentative stage in favour of his infamous diatribe phase. “I hate us, Billy. I hate that we suffer at the hands of everybody else, and in the end we’re just as judgmental as them…even more so. We’re chasing empty, becoming nobodies like the rest of them.”
“Come on, Trig. You’re being silly. You’ve had way too much to drink. We’ll find Tamara and go back to the party. You don’t have to get all worked up…”
“Fuck off!” He walked ahead of me, picking up his pace. “Tamara!”
Now, I leave you with I LOVE TO BOOGIE…
Keep restin’, Mr. Bolan Boogie…