Ghosts In The Tank

Ken Bailey reminisces on old relationships and connections to today's artists in Rangely's Tank for Sonic Arts album, "Rangely A-Caroling"

I was listening to the CD, “RANGELY A-CAROLING … AT THE TANK” again today. It is beautiful, the music and voices blending, harmonizing, and mingling with the acoustic echoes of the TANK. My favorite selection is “Silent Night” – the last band. It is so haunting I almost want to weep. Kelvin White’s tenor solo is especially deep and meaningful.

Thus, as I was listening, the room again seemed to fade, and I was there, at the Tank, with them.

The Tank was dark, lit only by a few lights to illuminate the musicians. I could see and hear them singing. I wanted to walk over and join them, to be a part with them – but I could not, as I was there just in spirit. So, I watched and listened as they sang.

Most of these people came onto the earth years after I had left Rangely. Some of them I knew as names and faces on Facebook. Others I had never met. One or two had lived in Rangely during “my” years, but we had not known each other at the time. Only one harked back to the days I had grown up in that town that I actually had interacted with back in the day.

But, listening to the music in the darkened Tank, I could almost be aware of others who were silently present, drinking in the music with me. I could almost see them:

A young man with a guitar named Billy. A deceased pastor and his wife, who had sung this same song with us in the church parking lot under the stars, and who would have loved to get a group to do it in the Tank, had it been available at the time. A young schoolteacher and his wife. Another, and her daughter. A principal. Oil field workers. Merchants who had come down after closing their stores.

And the group expanded from there, including people I had not met or known because they were in Rangely before me: Boomtown roughnecks, law enforcement, an early librarian, more teachers, but from the 1913 schoolhouse.

And then, Rangely pioneers – ranchers, landholders – known to me in my day as just names on oilfield lease signs. They were there, too.

For a few moments, we were all one, drinking in the music of the Tank. Standing in silence in the Silent Night. Unseen faces surrounding the “seen” faces lit by the lights -- faces of those who live in Rangely in the present day.

I never dreamed that I would someday be a Ghost in a Tank. But Rangely today belongs to those who live there in the present. The Rangely I knew – and the Rangely of the 50’s, the 40’s, and before – is gone. And yet, thanks to music, a CD, and a rather unlikely recording studio, we can transcend time – if only for a few minutes, at Christmas.

Again – Thank You, Tankers!