I drove some guy’s car across the country in ’75. I’d been “hired” in a manner of speaking by some hip-pocket transport company that was moving cars from one city to another for clients who didn’t want to pay exorbitant rail-transport fees. It was an L.A.-to-New York trip except I had to pay for all or part of the gas. (Or so I recall.) I’d run an ad looking for people to share driving plus gas expenses, and I’d chosen some Israeli guy and some dippy, under-educated girl, both in their 20s. We decided to drive straight through, night and day. It took us about 52 hours to arrive at the Lincoln Tunnel. In any event about halfway through the trip I fell asleep in the back seat around 2 or 3 am, and I remember being woken up by this song around dawn as we drove through western Kansas on some rural road.
It was not a pleasant awakening. It was actually kind of nightmarish. I was at the bottom of the pond but starting to rise to the surface — still sleeping but coming around. I could feel a sense of motion, of course, but my eyes were still closed and I was still half-dreaming. And then someone in the front seat suddenly turned up the radio and “oogah, oogah, oo-gahchaka, oogah, oogah, oo-gahchaka” jolted me in some kind of primal way. In my near-dream state it sounded like a bunch of gorillas had gotten inside the car and were about to pounce on my ass…”the fuck!” Then I sat up, rubbed my face, collected my senses and realized where I was and what was happening.
Trust me, you don’t want to wake up to this song. This memory has never left me.