Saturday, April 22, 2006

An Ode to Two Drive-Ins

To the right is a photo of a flyer sitting in the rubble of the Capitol Drive-In in the late 1980s--advertising something that was once fairly commonplace for drive-ins to do: Sunday morning open-air church services, with the sermons coming in over the attachable car speakers.

Around that same time, I was going to the S.E. 14th Street Drive-In a lot, and getting a good laugh out of the rocking vans and sudden brake-lights during the show. I thought of the church flyer I'd found at the Capitol site, and was struck by the irony of a place that be a passion pit one night, and then, a few hours later, a redemption spot. The chorus lyric popped right into my head, and then I scribbled down the rest of the lyrics right then, combining the Capitol and the S.E. 14th into a single south-side drive-in experience.

South Side Drive-In Night
(M. Heggen)

Late in the weekend when the sun goes down
Something is starting at the edge of town
The good ol' boys are taking good ol' gals
Out for a good ol' badass time

Cheapest thrills that you have ever seen
Found under a ninety foot asbestos screen
The South Side Drive-In Theater
Was still a legend in its prime

Well who could have known that while the folks at home
Lay dreaming with eyes shut tight
Everybody'd be singin' on Sunday morning
After sinnin' on Saturday night

Temperature's rising as the screen lights up
Whiskey and Fresca from a paper cup
Heartbeats hittin' in overdrive
While the car's just sittin' in park

Shadows moving as the picture shows
Chinese firedrill in the back three rows
Bright eyes winking in the snack bar light
And brake lights blink in the dark

Well who would have guessed that while they did their best
To raise hay with all of their might
Everybody'd be singin' on Sunday morning
After sinnin' on Saturday night

Forty-two winks after the midnight rain
The bottles are empty and the back seat's stained
Boyfriend's heaving in misery
While girlfriend's left in the lurch

Oleo glistens on a paper cup
And catching the light as the sun comes up
The South Side Drive-In Theater
Becomes the South Side Drive-In Church

Well I should have known that way down home
They've their own way of puttin' things right
Everybody was singin' on Sunday morning
After sinnin' on Saturday night

(Copyright 1989 Mark Heggen)

When I recorded the song shortly after (with local scenesters Lonnie Urich on drums and Rick Van Oel on lead guitar), I added a scrap of an honest-to-goodness S.E. 14th intermission film audio, which I'd taped on my boom box one night, tuning in to the drive-in's radio audio. (Listeners might mistakenly note a couple of blasphemous moments in the recording, but offense can only be taken if it's Got that you believe in!)

Here's the link to the mp3: South Side Drive-In Night mp3

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