Space Wrangler

This summer, I was looking through CDs at the Habitat ReStore when I found Widespread Panic’s Space Wrangler. The cover had “Widespread Panic” written in bitching fonts and a cool pop-art image of a guy riding a bucking bronco. “Looks cool,” I thought. “I’ve heard of this band.” I opened the case and was surprised it still had the CD. “I’ll buy this one.”

Now, I have to admit, I’m a poor excuse for an Athens music fan, and my appreciation for the local scene is pretty much limited to blowing out my eardrums at a Jucifer show once, but I thought, “Here’s my chance to become a Widespread Panic fan.” I had listened to a couple of their tracks years ago and thought, “Widespread Panic is good, but it’s not really my thing.” So, I wrote them off as just another jam band. But maybe they would grow on me.

I got home ready to have a deep listening session with my new album. I loaded Space Wrangler into the CD player, and it whirred to life. The room filled with acoustic guitar picking that lifted me up and carried me through the desert, through space and the memories of my life. And each new track perpetuated my beautiful trance. One song in particular sounded so familiar, but I couldn’t place where I had heard it before. I figured it must have been on WUOG years ago. 

When the ride ended, I was stunned. How could I have written off this band for so long? I was now a fan. I put the CD back in its case and said, “You’ve earned a place beside my Jucifer album.” 

The next day, I was eating breakfast and noticed Space Wrangler on the bookshelf. That reminded me that I wanted to find out the name of that familiar song. So, I grabbed the CD case and popped it open. The CD was mostly solid orange, but I thought maybe the tracks would be written small somewhere. I angled the CD into the morning light. A rainbow of colors rolled around its silvery edge. And the tiny words came into focus: