Right beside the highway in a desert far away,
Where snakes and lizards slither and coyotes howl and bay,
A tiny building sits there, with no windows, just one door,
Inside there's cracked paint on the walls and carpet on the floor.
The air is thick and stuffy, you could cut it with a knife,
And in the fog a DJ plays the soundtrack to your life...
These are the first few lines of a poem that will be in my book called The DJ. The inspiration comes from several sources. My dad was a DJ when he went to college, and when I was young he would play me old recordings of his shows. When it came my turn, my first stop upon arriving at University of Michigan was to their WCBN campus radio station, where I had my own free-form show for several years.
Also one of my favorite poems of all time is Ballad of the Sandman by Mike Agranoff, introduced to me by an old high school buddy of mine. It tells of the history and commercialization of late night radio from its golden age to what it became in the early 1970s...it's a gripping, haunting tale and made all the better in Agranoff's own spoken word recording of it.
There is also some inspiration gleaned from Wolfman Jack playing himself in George Lucas' American Graffiti....I love the concept behind this mysterious phantom DJ in a tiny building who is metaphorically playing the soundtrack to the characters' lives as the film plays out.
My illustration for the poem here is based on the exact layout of the WCBN radio station, where I would sit in the dark hours late night and early morning, spinning records and making magic.