Sunday, June 10, 2012
Saturdays, Then & Now
The record store pilgrimage on a Saturday afternoon was a teenage ritual. It was either me and Frank in Manhattan hitting both villages, West and East, or me and Al D-training it to Flatbush or taking the B-36 bus to the Flatlands in Brooklyn. I can still feel my heart starting to beat a bit faster and my stride suddenly starting to cover twice the ground the closer I got to the shops. It was if I needed to beat my companion by two full lengths to insure finding the one and only copy of whatever.
Years later, I still have a Saturday ritual. I haven't worked your standard 9-5 since my shop closed, and still the weekend feels like a weekend. So, Saturday remains the perfect day for listening, only now the ritual consists of a freshly brewed pot of coffee to go along with a good perusal of the iTunes library. Sipping and scrolling is the city boy's equivalent of coffee and a newspaper in the backyard. This first hour or so of waking up usually concludes with a playlist. That's the morning.
The new Kelly Hogan came next. This record gets better and better. My first attempt had it lumped with a few other new releases, like the incredible snoozer that is Rumer, another British Dusty Springfield "willneverbe," though she does pull off a Todd Rundgren cover on her new, otherwise flat collection of covers. That same day I listened to Father John Misty, a side project from one of the Fleet Foxes. As you may or may not know, I find the Fleet Foxes and that whole genre of 70s vibe-stealing, unoriginal, California fake-folkies with zero material, absolutely soul-crushing. I took on the Misty thanks to another recklessly doled out 4 -star review from Uncut magazine. (Or it might have been Mojo.) I should have known. It's nothing. The musical equivalent of shaved ice. I guess at that point I needed something familiar and satisfying and Kelly Hogan just didn't do it. But now, with a full head and heart, I embraced "I Like To Keep Myself In Pain" and man, it's real. Meat and potatoes. Songs that unfold like films, all with Kelly Hogan's heartbreak voice. This is a beauty.
First part of the day finished with a Neil Young double-header. I had little hope of snapping out of the miserable mood I was in after listening to "Americana," and "Time Fades Away" isn't exactly a party record. But that, along with "On The Beach" at least removed the horrible taste in my mouth, and reminded me why I loved Neil in the first place. I think more people need to listen to "On The Beach." It rarely comes up when talking about great records and it should.
Late Saturday afternoons, I turn to the vinyl and organize. Records I've purchased vs. records I've sold. I sort, listen, alphabetize, pack and post. I find it calming, like needlepoint or an episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Plus, I am always amazed when some gem of a rarity like an original mint German copy of the Small Faces "Autumn Stone" can sit for years in inventory at a ridiculously low price, and copies of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" sell consistently for $25 or more. As one friend and fellow fanatic put it, "That's what makes it fun, right?"
I woke up this morning from a restless sleep and a dream about Sheepshead Bay, the old neighborhood. It must have been on my mind, as some friends had gotten together yesterday and walked around, laughing and enjoying each other's company on the old stomping grounds. I thought about Zig Zag records, and Kings Plaza with Sam Goody's and their "all-label" sales. I thought about Titus-Oaks Records on Church & Flatbush right by Erasmus High School. Tried to find a photo and didn't, but did find out Alan "Titus-Oaks" Meltzer passed away last November. The man was a legend.
Saturday then and Saturday now. Of course, then seems so much better. A trip to a real record store with friends trumps a morning on eBay and Amazon. And music still never sounds better than on a Saturday. Doesn't matter what year it is.