Soul Train ruined my life. But I’ve forgiven it.

This entry was posted on Jul 30 2010

I remember as a child of 6 maybe 7 watching Charles in Charge every Sunday morning waiting for the day when Charles would just lose his shit, pull out a gun and shoot Buddy in the head for fucking EVERYTHING up one too many times. That day never came. Without fail, Charles always kept his cool every week while cleaning up Buddy’s messes which ranged from life-threatening to mandatory prison sentence. Charles was smart, quick thinking, charming, patient, and he never statutory raped the oldest daughter in that show. He was a model to live by. I could watch that show, understand it and take from it the lessons the wise Scott Baio had dispensed. When that show was on life made sense. Unfortunately that show was only 30 minutes long. It had to end sometime. And for some reason that I could never understand Channel 11 decided to follow that with… Soul Train… a strange and alien-like (at least to a child) show. Every week I would try for about 5 minutes to understand what was happening in front of me on screen, try to make sense of it.  All my scanning eyes would see was this sea of colored people dressed in strange alien-like (at least to a child) clothing and gyrating to strange music. I kept waiting for something to happen. Anything to happen. No. Nothing. Just more dancing.  Finally after five minutes of this my brain would overheat and auto-shutdown. The lessons learned from Charles in Charge having not been saved would be lost forever, which explains a lot about why I’ve become the bitter sadist version of Buddy that I am today instead of Charles.

Well two nights ago flipping through channels I came across Soul Train again on this retro black channel. The episode I saw I believe was from the early 80’s. Run DMC and another band played. And the colored people were still out on the dance floor and there was still no discernible format. Nothing had changed with the show. I was preparing for another seizure when something incredible happened. It started making sense. The music all of a sudden made sense. Cheesy happy old R&B. The clothes made sense. Cheesy colorful clothing. No longer was the show alien to me. Rather then having a violent attack and my body shutting down I found myself being taken over by a sense of calm. The music was funky and light. Everyone was just dancing, having a good time and nothing else. Everyone including the performers were smiling. The worries of my day had all of a sudden melted away. Then Don Cornelius appeared on screen in a terrible suit and took us to break. I stayed with the show all the way to the end. The sense of calm and general joy never left. If anything it grew. At the very end of the show they gave a make a wish child his final wish, which was to be able to dance on soul train. The credits rolled and everyone on the dance floor started dancing with the small boy. Then the show was over and I was wow’d and in shock. Perspective had changed everything for me. This show was amazing.

It got me thinking. This show could never in a million years work today. The show worked because it was cool, happy, and pure. The music was great R&B and sure maybe the music was about drugs and sex back then too, but it had a fluffy sound to it. It was anything but intense. The people at that club, maybe they weren’t great people maybe that never changes, maybe people are always drugs and sex hounds and whatever but all they cared about at that moment was dancing.  It was pure because it was just about these people focusing on dancing and fun in it’s simplest terms and nothing else. Nothing to complicate and ruin that. No one was trying to show anyone else up. They were in there own worlds dancing and having fun not another care in the world. The music brought that out of them. The biggest reason why this could never work today is the music. The music is just too intense today. Most rap is about this tough image, about bitches, about the police, about drugs, it’s angry fast and intense. Today’s R&B is all about sex and love but it’s intense. It’s so graphic.  You couldn’t film a Soul Train today to that music. People couldn’t dance happy to that music. You just can’t. Men and women would be grinding on each other, there would be a sexually charged atmosphere and it would show in the dancing. There would fights and other macho type shit. There would be men and women just trying to one up each other and show off better dance moves than the last person. It would become a competition.  It would be everything Soul Train wasn’t. It could never work with country music because country isn’t cool enough for a show like this.  You couldn’t take pop music now like Kelly Clarkson, Pink, N’sync, and the Backstreet Boy’s (even though the music itself would be perfect) because the the demographic for that music is very white and its a fact that white people can’t dance. Right now some of you are probably thinking “this guy is crazy I got some moves.” Shut the fuck up. You’re a terrible dancer. It’s not your fault (it’s a fact that white people are born without the funk gene), but unless you’ve received an incredible amount of gene therapy you can’t dance.  No one wants to see a club full of peckerwoods attempting to dance.  And you couldn’t try a retro kind of thing and play old music because it would just come off hokey and like a joke.

It’s dead and it ain’t coming back.  I’m finally grieving it’s death. Maybe I’m behind the times on this one but it doesn’t make what I’m feeling any less profound. The catharsis I’ve experienced has been amazing. I can’t help but think how cool that show would have been to have around, to kill the stress of the week. Every week. Fresh and current. Re-runs will have to do, but I will have to live with knowing that I’m watching a ghost, something not from my time, something not meant for me.  I know that this show wronged me as a child by traumatizing me and destroying any possible lasting effect that Scott Baio could have had on my developing mind, but maybe in fact it wasn’t the show that turned me into the monster I am today. Maybe I should blame the channel 11 programmers who decided that SOUL TRAIN was the obvious follow up to a Scott Baio Sitcom.

Soul Train, It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t intend to do what you did to me. You were just the tool that Channel 11 used to scramble my mind.  Farewell Soul Train. I wish we had met under different circumstances. Rest well.

While I’m on the subject of trains I just want to mention how much I hate those Coor’s Light train commercials where the train rolls through the crowd of people on the hot day and dispenses cold refreshments to everyone left in it’s wake. I hate this fucking train. I’m not sure why. It’s lame, but that isn’t reason enough to harbor the kind of hatred that I have for this commercial. Maybe I was raped by a train as a child.  But actually I think it has to do with the fact that all the people in the crowd are kind of down before the train arrives, maybe because its a hot day or something. And just because some train rolls by and they end up with a cold beer in their hands it’s the greatest day of their lives. One beer shouldn’t be enough to make these people crazy in the streets with joy. It’s beer. Get a grip. Fucking alcoholic pigs. Either way I hope that after the commercial ends and I’m watching Shaq try to sell me on Icy Hot Patches, all those people in that commercial get on that train and it takes them off to a fully functioning and operational Auschwitz.

I hope the beer was worth it you  alcoholic dimwitted cretins.

One Response to “Soul Train ruined my life. But I’ve forgiven it.”

  1. “Finally after five minutes of this my brain would overheat and auto-shutdown.”

    I’m not sure why, but this line floored me. ;-)

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