The Music Archeologist Part 1

by nielskunze on March 21, 2019

The experiment had failed.

The earth realm was slated for destruction… again. Not a correction, mind you; not even a massive one. This time it would be completely dismantled. The members of the board had voted, and the Outlandish decision was cast. Earth had become a danger to itself and others. It had to go.

“How exactly does one go about disassembling a world anyway?” asked Jay.

“It’s a realm,” grumbled Gord.


“There are no worlds,” answered Gord, affecting his usual air of superiority, “only realms.”

“Okay…” conceded Jay, “how does one properly set about obliterating a realm? Especially such an aged one? Earth’s been around a very long time.”

“Dissolve the sun,” said Gord rather tersely. It made sense. Gord had been the inventor of suns. And much like Edison had done on the human scale, his little invention had changed absolutely everything. Suns, stars… lightbulbs— they were game-changers.

“Well, good luck with that,” offered Jay, turning to leave.

“Where do you think you’re going?” asked Gord pointedly. “You’re just as mixed up in this thing as I am,” he insisted.

Jay wanted to object, but he knew there’d be no point. It was true. He was as fully entangled with the earth realm as its creator was. He had agreed to share the responsibility for his mentor’s creation the moment he had entered that realm… and had seriously fucked with its destiny. That Gord had managed to extricate him at all from his own follies, lo that long ago, was a miracle in itself. Now, here they stood, outside, so seemingly apart, contemplating the ultimate fate of earth, both knowing what had to be done.

“We’re going back in, aren’t we?” asked Jay mostly rhetorically.

“Yup,” came the immediate answer.


I first met Gord and Jay on June 21st, 1972. It was a Wednesday. It was the first week of summer holidays. I was sixteen. I was at work, at the record shop.

My boss had left the shop in my young but capable hands for the afternoon. The record on the turntable was King Crimson’s ’69 debut ‘In the Court of the Crimson King.’

I could’ve sworn I was alone in the shop. It was slow, even for a Wednesday, and I had a perfect view of the front door from the counter at which I stood. Nobody had come through those doors for at least twenty minutes.

The song was ‘Moonchild,’ towards the end, during the noodley bits. My teenage self was unable to understand why Mr. Fripp had insisted on including those aimless unstructured noise sessions on each of the first Crim albums, sometimes lasting more than ten minutes each. It seemed to me that vinyl real estate was at a premium, and any self-respecting artist would want to cram in as much awesomeness as was humanly possible on each and every record… and here was Fripp and the boys serving up a steaming pile of noodles, with not even a morsel of meat to savour. I didn’t get it.

Anyway, that was my train of thought when Gord and Jay suddenly “appeared” in the shop. I swear they never came through the front door. They were just suddenly there, peering at me over the Black Sabbath ‘Master of Reality’ display left over from last summer.

My next train of thought was that these two were really Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, freshly beamed into my reality, here to save the world or some such thing. (Oh the irony of that thought, I would later realize!)

Nope. No pointy ears. Neither of these two oddballs was Vulcan. They appeared human… mostly.

“Can I help you gentlemen find something today?” I asked nonchalantly, trying to cover up my deepest paranoid suspicions, as I emerged from behind the counter.

My very straightforward query seemed to catch both of them a little off guard. “Um… yes… well…” stammered the one who seemed to be in charge— the leader, so to speak. “What is it exactly that you sell?”

Okay, that threw me for a bit of a loop, coming from someone standing in the middle of a record shop utterly stuffed to the brim with records. “Ah, music,” I answered, biting back my profound incredulity.

“Oh, how lovely!” beamed the other one, the nice one— the one I later learned was Jay. “We’ll take some of that please,” he added. “We love music!”

“Um, anything in particular?” I asked, struggling to keep my composure.

“How about this?” asked Jay, holding up the Black Sabbath album from the rack before them.

“Master of Reality,” I read the cover. “Doom metal,” I quickly added, not knowing what else to say.

“Sounds perfect,” muttered Gord just loud enough for me to hear, although I doubt that was his intent.

“The first song is Sweet Leaf,” I began to ramble. “It’s an ode to Mary Jane.” Nothing. No reaction. “Um, marijuana… cannabis…?”

“Ah, cannabis!” For a second there I thought I saw Gord actually smile with the sudden recognition. But then his mood turned on a dime as his natural bitterness seeped through again: “Only worthwhile thing you freaks ever managed to dream up.”

Who the fuck was he calling a freak! Thirty seconds in and this was easily already the strangest conversation I’d ever had. And it never really got any better.

I honestly didn’t know what to make of these two, but somehow I ended up taking a liking to them nevertheless. They were either two of the most naïve middle-aged men in the history of modern civilization, or they were escaped lunatics from the asylum and possibly serial killers. Either way, they were some real freaky people, and I’d always taken a shine to freaky people in general.

It turns out that what Gord and Jay were really after was a ride into the desert. They had important business in the desert. Sure… why not?

I drove a cherry red ’67 Mustang. I wasn’t all that keen on taking it into the dusty old desert, but I could always wash it when I got back. I was always washing that car. God, I loved that car!

It was still early— late afternoon… on the longest day of the year. My boss, the owner of the record shop, had relieved me at 4, and after a quick stop at the 7-11 for slurpees, we were on our way to the desert. Gord was strapped tightly into the passenger seat beside me (who wears a seatbelt in 1972?), while Jay was sliding back and forth across the freshly Armor-Alled vinyl bench seat in the back as I took most of the corners a tad too fast— as teenage boys driving Mustangs tend to do.

During a straight stretch of road I spied Jay in the rearview mirror holding the newly-purchased “Master of Reality” album up to his ear as though he actually expected to hear something. I shoved the cassette tape into the deck instead of even attempting to explain.

“It’s a mixed tape I made,” I shouted above the music blaring from the speakers. I was always so proud of my mixed tapes. Working in a record shop scored me access to some real obscure gems. Jay instantly seemed to genuinely like it while Gord was quite content with his usual scowl.

When Elton John got to the shushy part in “Empty Sky,” where it got all quiet for a bit, I asked the fellas “So what are we doing out in the desert anyway?” They looked at each other conspiratorially for a moment. Then Gord just shrugged and answered straight out.

“We’re going to end the world.”

“I thought it was a realm,” interjected Jay.

“To him it’s a world,” scolded Gord.

Neat. I didn’t believe them. Of course I didn’t, but I thought it’d be fun to play along. “End of the world, you say? We’d best get stoned then.”

Both of them looked horrified until I explained that getting stoned was the same as getting high on cannabis— a thing to which they were both surprisingly amenable. I pulled the pre-rolled after-work fatty from my cigarette pack and sparked it up. Ten minutes later and the tunes were sounding heavenly and Gord was actually managing a look of honest contentment… until I resumed the conversation.

“So why exactly are we ending the world today?”

I saw Jay squirm a bit in the back seat, but it was Gord who answered. “Because you fuckers just can’t seem to get a damn thing right!”

I laughed. Heartily. C’mon, it was funny. Hysterical, really. “What d’ya mean?” I asked feigning a serious tone.

Gord bent to pick up a newspaper from among the garbage strewn on the floor at his feet. (Yeah, despite the Turtle Wax and the Armor All, I was still a sixteen-year-old kid, after all.)

“This!” he exclaimed, holding up the front page, and smacking it with the back of his hand. He then read the headline to me: “Valedictorian Urges Peers to Follow Their Dreams.” It was a small-town newspaper, and that was just the sort of thing we might consider news.

“What?” I was genuinely perplexed.

“You dip-shits get everything exactly backwards!” Gord raged. “Follow your dreams! Follow your fucking dreams! Why don’t you try leading them instead?”

Somehow there seemed to be something profound in that. I can’t say that I exactly got it right at that moment, but the irascible Gord was definitely onto something.

“Don’t follow your dreams,” I reiterated, “lead your dreams instead.” There was indeed a profound logic in that… or maybe it was just that I was super high on Thai chronic. Whatever, it satisfied something in me.

But Gord was something less than satisfied. The weed obviously hadn’t completely tamed his irascible nature. “I really thought you’d have figured it out by now,” he lamented angrily.

“Figured what out?”

“Base reality,” he said very matter-of-factly… to which I had no reply, mostly because I had no clue what he might be getting at. I shot him a quick look of puzzlement and then waited for him to elaborate.

“There was always just one thing… one thing to protect and cherish… the one thing that no matter what else might happen, it would surely save you. If only you could remember this one thing, it would always rescue you, redeem you, and set the world aright again. But you— every last one of you— forgot it. And now it’s lost… and the world is doomed.”

I really thought Gord was going to tell me what the ‘one thing’ was. Nope. I had to ask, and even then he couldn’t just come out with it. It seems Gord had found a teaching moment— the only thing that apparently made him happy… or, at least, less bitter. He launched into some metaphysical bullshit, like all this end-of-the-world stuff was real and perfectly serious. I kept a straight face.

“There’s only really two things going on here.” He gestured with a grandiose flourish to indicate that “here” was the entirety of the world. “This is a binary realm.” Here he paused to look at Jay, confirming some private joke that wasn’t all that funny. Turning back to me, he continued. “Expansion and contraction.”

Apparently those were the “two things.” I had been expecting something a bit more revealing, insightful, profound. But he was getting to that.

“It’s all about mind, you know.” He paused again to let that settle in, but its significance was mostly lost on me. I still didn’t know where this was going. “And what do we call the expansion of mind?” he asked, fully expecting an answer. I um’d and ah’d a bit incurring some fresh Gordian wrath. “C’mon! We covered this already!”

I shrugged. He sighed. And Jay answered into the awkward silence.

“Dreaming,” he said from the back seat. “Mind expands through dreaming.”

“Yes,” Gord acknowledged. “Dreaming is like a yawn and a stretch for consciousness.”

Okay, I was starting to get it. “So… dreaming is the ‘one thing’ you were talking about earlier— the one thing to be cherished and protected…?”

“Yes, the CAPACITY to dream, really DREAM. Precisely.” Gord suddenly looked almost pleased. Almost…

“But what’s this bit about contraction then?”

“Dreaming can either be wholly private or decidedly social. Dreams can be shared— experientially.” Again with the pause… but now I was really starting to get it. I picked up the thread…

“So… this whole reality— this realm,” I corrected as I met Jay’s gaze in the rearview mirror with a wink, “is a shared dream.”

“Yup,” is all Gord said. I was expecting a bit more fanfare than that. After all, I was really beginning to catch on… but I was still unclear about the whole contraction thing and I said so.

“It’s a freewill universe,” answered Gord. “We can experience the dream of another only through agreement, by making contracts.”

“Ah, that’s what you meant by contraction!”

“Contracts put limits on things… keeping them from expanding into absurdity or just plain oblivion. You need a lot of agreements to make a complex reality like this one work. You need a lot of contracts.” Gord had really warmed to our conversation now, and I was diggin’ it too.

“So where are all these contracts filed?” I asked. “Which law office is keeping track of all our agreements?”

“That’s what the sun is for,” answered Gord. “And we’re here— today— to dissolve the sun.”

“Wait… what?” I didn’t understand how the sun could be the grand repository of agreements among all living things on earth. After all, that’s what Gord was saying… if I was following. Gord seemed to understand my confusion immediately.

“I liked it better,” he began to explain, “when people thought the sun was made of moondust and phlogiston. Beats the hell out of this helium fusion nonsense.” Well, that didn’t help my understanding any better. Gord continued. “All that is… is consciousness. Existence and consciousness are exactly equivalent. You could even say they’re the same thing— the only thing. Consciousness is— that’s our starting point.”

“Cogito ergo sum,” I said.

Okay. I kinda enjoyed this mystical crap. But the knit of my brow communicated clearly that I was teetering on the brink of being lost again, so Gord started in on another tack.

“Close your eyes,” he said.

“Um, I’m driving.”

“So stop. We’re here anyway,” he added.

We were really in the middle of buttfuck nowhere, and I said so as I stopped the car.

“It’s perfect,” said Gord, stepping out to immediately gaze at the blazing sun overhead.

I got out too, and flipped the seat forward to let Jay out from the back. We stretched and breathed in the desert heat for a moment and then Gord resumed his tutorial.

“Now close your eyes.” I did. “What do you see?”

“Nothing,” I answered automatically.

“Bullshit!” raged Gord. “That’s a learned response. And it’s patently false. Now tell me what you actually see with your eyes closed.”

I did as I was told. “I see… colours… lights… random patterns. It’s a jumble. It’s chaos.” Until that very moment I had never realized how much there was to see when I simply closed my eyes. My previous answer of “nothing” seemed rather absurd suddenly. How did I never notice this before!

“I looked high, saw the empty sky!” sang Jay to the desert at large. “If I could only… could only fly!”

Gord deftly ignored him. “Light is the substance of dreaming… and dreaming is what minds do. They can’t help it. Consciousness is inherently creative. It automatically fills all voids in time and space. Light occupies space, thus creating it. Time is filled by structure or organization. Time depends on patterning. These things together create realms… or reality as you know it. And I simply call them dreams.”

Holy shit! I think I was really getting it. Somehow all of this was actually making sense… at least, to my thoroughly stoned inquisitive self. Gord seemed to acknowledge my progress and thus continued.

“Dreaming is projected outward from the source of consciousness— your mind. In every moment, it is natural for you to radiate highly structured quanta of light in every direction. You are the source of light… as is every living creature.” Now we were really getting to the crux of the matter! “The sun is foremost a receptacle. First, the sun gathers the light from all dreamers within its realm. Then, the sun’s own consciousness processes all of the information individually received from uncountable sources, noting in particular where they are in agreement. And finally, it returns that same light restructured and re-patterned as a collective consciousness which is qualitatively more than the mere sum of its unfathomably varied parts.”

And here, Gord actually smiled— a genuine ear-to-ear grin. And rightfully so, I thought. This shit was righteously profound! And then the next realization hit me like a ton of bricks!

If what Gord had just managed to explain to me had any real validity at all, that meant that these two jokers really were here to dissolve the sun and bring an end to the world. Shit!

’69 Give and/or Take 1


  • Empty Sky -Elton John
  • Madame Sunrise -White Lightning
  • In Circles -T2
  • The Nile Song -Pink Floyd
  • 21st Century Schizoid Man -King Crimson
  • Looking Around -Yes
  • Bring Out Your Dead -Colosseum
  • Son of Mr. Green Genes -Frank Zappa
  • Jumping Off the Sun -Colosseum
  • No More White Horses -T2
  • The Kettle -Colosseum
’69 Give and/or Take 2


  • Ojo -Leo Kottke
  • Suite: Judy Blue Eyes -Crosby Stills & Nash
  • Nature’s Way -Spirit
  • Big Yellow Taxi/Woodstock -Joni Mitchell
  • The Narrow Way -Pink Floyd
  • The Journey -Ginhouse
  • Tales of the Riverbank -Dancer
  • April -Deep Purple
  • The Moon Is Down -Gentle Giant

Music Archeologist’s Note:

The majority of songs in this set are from the year 1969. Some are from 1970 and ’71. Only “Tales of the Riverbank” is from 1972. I had acquired an unofficial copy of that fabulous song from my older brother’s friend Gerry only a week or two before the events in this story took place.

Go to The Music Archeologist Part 2

Leave your comment


Required. Not published.

If you have one.