These days, smoking is prohibited just about everywhere. Try to light one up inside any public building in most states and foreign countries and you’re likely to set off an alarm or land yourself a big fine or, at the very least, a few looks of utter disdain.
Back in 1973 it wasn’t like that. Airplanes still had “smoking sections” (as if the smoke somehow knew where to stop wafting) and it was not uncommon—in fact it was rather probable—to encounter the nasty stench inside of restaurants, bars, offices, movie theaters and all sorts of other spaces.
Many colleges even allowed smoking in classrooms. But high schools were another story. After all, high school students were ostensibly too young to purchase tobacco legally, and the schools did their due diligence to try to prevent their young charges from breaking the law, at least inside of their walls.
Which was why, if you were a high school smoker, you took lots of bathroom breaks. The lavatory was your refuge. It was the only place inside the school where you could grab a few drags without being caught—if you were lucky. Sometimes a teacher might walk in and execute a nasty finger wag—“Hey, put that out! It’s not allowed in school!”—but for the most part, privacy was afforded by the WC, where the Marlboros and Camels came out.
Cub Koda knew this. The leader of the Michigan-based rock band Brownsville Station was extremely knowledgeable about all things vintage rock ’n’ roll, blues, R&B, country, etc., and a maven of pop culture. That would also include ’50s juvenile delinquent films, in which, it seemed, every leather-jacketed punk had one cigarette dangling from his lips and another tucked above his ear, with the pack carefully inserted into a rolled-up shirtsleeve. Koda, although approaching the age of 25 at the time, remembered his Detroit high school days and often drew upon images from that time to incorporate into his songwriting.
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