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Squirrel Nut Zipper Cole Lives Double Life

Ever since the first times he saw Easy Rider, Squirrel Nut Zipper Bassist Stu Cole knew where his heart lay- on the open road with Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, his chopper and his stand-up bass strapped to his sissy bar. Stu himself will tell you that there were endless nights he lay awake as he cursed himself for every picking up a bass guitar(let alone that unwieldly standup acoustic bass that barely fits in a bus). "Why couldn't I have picked up a hamonica?", he asked me rhetorically. The best I could do was mumble something unaudible back at him, as I'm not used to being on the other side of the question.

"David," he said to me, as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder in a brotherly manner. "For the last 20 years, I've been on stage playing to screaming pubescent girls whose fathers would kill me if they knew what their daughters wanted from me. I would have gladly been an obliging participant, but the truth is... my dream was the road! When I looked out from the stage, I saw hundreds of $1 bills, standing there, swaying to the music and helping me reach my goal-The Chopper!"

I was amazed! A rock star dreaming of being a biker? I've heard of bikers dreaming of being rock stars and rock stars dreaming of being baseball players, but never rock stars dreaming of being bikers. I decided to press on and find out what made this Squirrel Nut tick.

"Let me get this straight. You've reached the pinacle of success in the world of Rock & Roll. You've played Shea Stadium, the Filmore East and The Cave, you have a wife and a loving family and you still want the chopper?"

He looked me in the eye and said "You know, I've tried to shake it, but I can't. I had a chance before I got married and started my family, but I blew, I really blew it". When he said those words, I knew it came directly from Dennis Hopper's mouth and like Dennis Hopper, he failed to elaborate, leaving both The Carrboro News and it's readers(as Dennis Hopper did his cinema audience)all of eternity to figure out what they blew.

I could sense the desperation in his voice and recognized that he was going to expose to me something that I may not have wanted to hear. My common sense told me to stop him before he started, but my newspaper told me to get as much of a story as I could. I felt myself in conflict, but then I saw him as one of MY $1 bill so in my most empathetic, caring voice in the hope that I might turn him into a $5 bill, I gently asked,"What is it you wanted to say....Stu?"

"David, please don't let my wife find out, but..... I'm living my dream! I finally got that chopper and I'm riding it to my hearts desire. I've never felt so alive, so ....real..... I cruise Main Street, Franklin Street, Weaver Street..... I see people looking at me with admiration and respect. I'm finally somebody that someone wishes that they were. Having to keeping this from my wife is a terrible burden, but I've been very discreet. Promise you won't tell my wife!"

"Sure Stu, I promise. I promise that if I ever see your wife, I won't tell her about your chopper".

With those words we parted, both feeling that we had accomplished our goals. Stu had relieved a tremendous amount of guilt by confessing his sins to someone who would keep his inner secrets well protected and I- had a story which I could turn into one more $1 bill.

Stu Cole and his chopper
(but don't tell his wife!)

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