Monday, August 8, 2011

Cheers to My Lifelong Friend J.J. Purpura

I met J.J. Purpura in an architectural drawing class at Gainesville High School due to a small personal crisis. Our teacher was very passive and I quickly learned I could do my work in 15 minutes then ditch the class leaving our instructor unaware that I was gone.

When I returned at the end of class to collect my drawings and store them till the next day after a 30 minute recess, I noticed someone had drawn a stick figure on my plans. I voiced my frustration out loud and immediately looked around to find out who looked guilty. For some reason I focused on the wrong person, J.J. Purpura. Somehow through my misunderstanding and accusation, we became friends. I certainly had the lower hand in this narrative.

Around the time we were graduating, we became such close friends that we shared about anything one could imagine.

One thing we shared was a passion for music with heart. One such artist was Todd Rundgren.  J.J. had called me saying they were going to be at the Great Southern Music Hall in downtown Gainesville, FL and we bought tickets. Todd Rundgren & Utopia blew our minds for two hours then concluded with a final set and opened up for a little audience interaction.   J.J. and I went right in front of the stage and shook hands and high fived Todd as he was singing his closing classics. We all felt as one.

I got a call a couple of years ago from J.J. saying that Todd Rundgren was going to be playing in downtown Tampa and asked me if I would I fly down from the Carolinas for a 30 year reunion.

After being taken back that it had been 30 years, I said yes. Bought tickets. Got a date and I met J.J. and his wife, Carol for this 30 year reunion.

The crazy thing is, J.J. and I could have hit a rough spot in our friendship several times, but instead, we both chose to respect each other and rock on. In fact, I can't remember anything but support from he and his family for the last 30 years.

I just wanted to share a special rendition of a song that Todd Rundgren wrote many years ago, while taking a back seat to his friend, Darryl Hall of Hall & Oates on this song.

J.J., I want to take a back seat right now and let you know that you've been a great friend for more than 30 years and I admire you, your dad, your mom, and your sisters, Jolene and Karen more than I can say. Everytime I see your family together, I learn how to love and treasure special moments in life. You and your family are Italian in every way and I adore you all.

Lyrics to Todd Rundgren and Utopia: "Why Can't We Still Be Friends": 

We can't play this game anymore, but

Can we still be friends?

Things just can't go on like before, but

Can we still be friends?

We had something to learn

Now it's time for the wheel to turn

Things are said one by one

Before you know it's all gone

Let's admit we made a mistake, but

Can we still be friends?

Heartbreak's never easy to take, but

Can we still be friends?

It's a strange sad affair

Sometimes seems like we just don't care

Don't waste time feeling hurt

We've been through hell together

La la la la, la la la la

Can we still be friends?

Can we still get together sometime?

We awoke from our dream

Things are not always what they seem

Memories linger on

It's like a sweet sad old song

After spending the 4th of July of 2011 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with you and Carol and your extended family, I see more clearly just how special you and your family are. I've lived 2 1/2 hours from Gatlinburg, TN for 12 years and I've never gone there since I was 11. You made me realize that we must truly live every day and treasure our friends and family and every moment because they are our true treasure and one day they will be gone.

I thank you and love you and your family for your authenticity and generosity thoughout our 30+ years of friendship that got a rough start.

One song that Todd Rundgren and Utopia did that JJ and I both agreed had a message in the lyrics and hit the right sound in the approach was "A Dream Goes on Forever". Here is a version that is simple, yet has the heart that made us fans:

A Dream Goes on Forever:

"A million old soldiers will fade away
But a dream goes on forever
I'm left standing here, I've got nothing to say
All is silent within my dream

A thousand true loves will live and die
But a dream lives on forever
The days and the years will go streaking by
But the time has stopped in my dream

We all have our everyday hopes and fears
And you'll find no exception in me
But that doesn't get me through a sea of tears
Over life's biggest tragedy

You're so long ago and so far away
But my dream lives on forever
I guess I believe that I'll see you one day
For without it there is no dream

You're so far away and so long ago
But my dream lives on forever
And how much I loved you you'll never know
'Til you join me within my dream
And how much I loved you you'll never know
'Til you join me within my dream."

I Adore You, Carol and the Purpuras, My Hat Is Off,


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