Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wintersongs, Special Bonus Track

One more for the series...

Hailing from the Saint Paul, Minnesota it's quite natural for a band to have a winter-themed song. With long, dark and bitterly-cold winters, the Twin Cities, as well as other cities that have cold or miserable-weather have long been fertile ground for bands. What else are you going to do? Sacked in and bored,  you sequester yourself to the basement and pick up some instruments and bang out music. Or drink. Or, in the case of Hüsker Dü, do both, and do both well.

From Flip Your Wig, the Hüsker's fourth studio album, as well as their second stellar release of 1985, is Flexible Flyer

Down on my Flexible Flyer
To the bottom how fast I would go
Just waiting for me under the tree
And out in the snow

A cowboy, a nurse or a fireman
There's so many things that you can be
You can set bigger goals, but set your soul
Yeah, set your soul free

Times, places and situations
Lead to an early grave
When we get there we see
Just what did we save?

If your heart is a flame burning brightly
You'll have light and you'll never be cold
And soon you will know that you just grow
You're not growing old

If the wheels of your wagon are rusty
You can paint them until they are new
You can roll down a hill, but if you can't
Then I pity you

(and the video - which sadly has nothing at all to do with sleds or winter):

Growing up in the Midwest I always had a Flexible Flyer as part of my winter arsenal of sledding devices. Sure, aluminum saucers were fun and erratic (you'd often end up facing the wrong way, speeding backwards and out of control down the hill), while molded plastic sleds always had interesting novelty gadgets like (shudder) brakes. But once the snow became packed down enough, generally after a couple of good snowfalls, coupled with a freeze/thaw cycle or two, Flexible Flyers were my go-to sleds.

I'd fastidiously file the rust off the runners and then apply whatever wax I could find, generally rubbing an old candle along the now-smooth rails. Yes, as a 10 year-old, I lived in a Swix-free home.

With our neighborhood adjacent to a local country club, there were plenty of moderately-steep and long hills to descend. But the best sledding tracks were always made on the steep, curving and shaded closed-for-the-season boat launch at a nearby lake. My friends and I spent hours in the snow packing and shaping the most-perfect track this side of Lillehammer. Wipeouts were inevitable, as was losing a glove or moon boot when one launched off-track and into the dormant brush. And while we would always end up cold and nearly-frostbitten, we'd return the next day (or evening if school was in session), repair the track and attack it again.

Nowdays this is the only Flexible Flyer I still own, a small ornament that was made by one-time employer Pacific Cycle when they owned the brand:

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