Charles E. Richardson

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest...?

I’ve been watching Georgia Public Broadcasting’s music pledge drives over the last few of weeks and they are about to break my bank. I was already a sustaining member but then Dr. Louis Gates had a special and I upped my pledge. The following night, another special, “Eyes on the Prize” was aired and I almost pledged again, but my wife reminded me I already had the book and the DVD. But it’s the music that really gets to me and the GPB/PBS specials do a fantastic job of creating a time machine full of memories.

Yes, the artists are far past their physical prime, but aren’t we all? They still dress the part and their voices are vibrant and strong. Their songs still conjure up to me what I was doing and who I was doing it with. That twinkle in their eyes remains. That appreciation of being appreciated by live audiences for what was for some, their only hit. We called them “One Hit Wonders.”

Remember the 1937 movie “Snow White” where the evil queen says, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” The evil queen isn’t the only one to have a Magic Mirror, I’ve got one, and I’d bet you have one, too. Mine had been lying to me for years. Every morning when I gazed at it, there I stood, a vibrant 25-year-old in the prime of life. The 32-inch waist? There it was. The head fill of hair? Of course. My Magic Mirror was lying its glaze off.

That’s what music can do. That’s what it did in Macon during the Cherry Blossom Festival Street Party. Mavis Staples took me there again, back to the time when, in 1972, she said she knew a place where “Ain’t nobody cryin’, Ain’t nobody worried’ Chuck Leavell, had already zipped me back to 1973 when he and the Randall Bramblett Band started in on “Jessica.”

I don’t know whose idea it was to combine Molly and Me, JD McPherson, Leavell, Mavis and 75 year old George Clinton of Funkadelic/Parliment fame, but who ever it was deserves a medal. There was something for everybody and the single stage at Poplar at Cotton was perfect.

I will not reveal what I was doing when I heard Funkadelic for the first time. I will tell you the year was 1970. I was on the radio at KUOP-FM, and the song was “Mommy, What’s a Funkadelic?” Look it up, you’ll see what I mean after the first stanza.

I say all that to say, my Magic Mirror can’t lie to me as easily anymore, and it certainly can’t do it without a soundtrack. There are creaks and pops where there were none at 25. That full head of hair? Forgetaboutit. But oh what a soundtrack and I appreciate the music rolling around in my head. Wouldn’t give anything for it.

I looked around the street party scene and could tell I wasn’t the only one having a Magic Mirror Moment.

It is pretty obvious that our best days are still in that mirror. I don’t say that to be cruel, it’s just reality. I don’t know when my Magic Mirror stopped working, One day, as I got out of the shower, I looked at the reflection and saw someone I didn’t know. It couldn’t be me, but there was no one else standing butt naked in my bathroom. I looked around just to be sure.

Who is this guy? He has a head of gray hair, what’s left of it, and while the weight of this guy was about the same as the man in the mirror, gravity had shifted things a bit – south. I couldn’t get over the fact that my thighs, always a tremendous source of power and strength and a persistent problem when buying trousers, we’re starting to look like my mother’s.

So what does music have to do with our Magic Mirrors? When our ears perk up to an old familiar tune, pounds melt away, the hair color returns and our eyes start to twinkle again. And for me, the fullness of the fro makes a comeback — if just for a stanza or two.