Picture the scene. It is the early 1980s, and a squad of young Marines, recently deployed from Okinawa to South Korea, are in the back of a “deuce and a half” travelling through the countryside going northwards.
They are cold, tired, and to be honest scared and disoriented. The Cold War is still real, and no peace treaty has ever ended the Korean conflict of the 1950s. To be fair, they are cocky, and totally confident in their own abilities, their training, and in the Corps.
They ride without conversation, some doze, and each is caught up in their own thoughts. I sit among them, cold and desperately missing my wife and infant daughter. Then one of the guys pushes the button on his small portable cassette player.
To the backdrop of rolling hills, and rising mountains, the strains of Mr. Mister’s Broken Wings pour from the little device. Its rhythmic opening chords begin just as the image of a Buddhist temple comes into view in the distance.
The melody is a perfect soundtrack to the rugged foreignness of the scenery. The lyrics touch the loneliness of a young husband far from his wife and home. “Baby, I don’t understand, Why we can’t just hold on to each other’s hands . . . Baby, it’s all I know,
That you’re half of the flesh and blood makes me whole I need you so!”
It is not only a significant moment in “Music and Me,” but one of the enduring memories of my entire life.