Thursday, August 25, 2016

These Are the Records That Were Spinning In My Neighborhood

I've been putting off blogging by watching all kinds of useless junk on the internet, such as this band that dresses up like Transformers and plays songs from "Transformers: The Movie," the animated movie from 1986. Aren't those costumes fantastic? But I can't help but feel sorry for the guy stuck portraying Spike, the earthling and friend of the Transformers. It's as if they ran out of money on the other elaborate costumes and just stuck him with a factory jumpsuit and a hard hat.

Tomorrow I'm going out to the suburbs for a record sale hosted some dude in his garage. He says that if you show him on your phone that you have shared the link to the add to someone else on Facebook, he will give you an ice cold Old Style tall boy. For my European readers (okay, reader, let's face it), Old Style is a cheap beer sold only in the midwest, and tall boy means a 16 ounce can. It seems this guy has way too many records and decided to take a couple days drinking beer in his garage and selling a bunch of vinyl. It's only a town or two over from my parents' place, I like beer, and I like records. How can I say no? The plan is to drop my very pregnant wife off at work and drive right out into the suburbs to thumb through stacks and stacks of vinyl while sipping on a cool one. What a great way to end the summer!

No idea who this guy is, but is he more proud of his lady or the beer?
Speaking of the very pregnant wife, it's now the 25th of August, and our due date is September 12th. We have the crib set up in the bedroom, and sometimes we will walk by it and say, "Hey, that's where baby sleeps!" Then we will be in the car and motion to the backseat where the carseat is hooked up and say, "That's where baby rides!" Just today I drove Mrs. Noisewater by the hospital on her way to way to work, and she said, "Hey, Ken. That's where baby is going to be born." It's obvious the first time we say those things, then it's just repetitive, and after a while it's hilarious to us. I think because we both can't believe we are having a baby in a matter of weeks, maybe days!

And then back to vinyl again: Today's actual blog topic involves listening to the records that were on the turntable when I was a kid and recording my impressions now and memories then. My mom and dad were actually not that big on rock music. Their collection consists of a lot more jazz and classical. However, there were a handful of rock records that they would play, and my sister and I would spin those select few over-and-over.

1. Fleetwood Mac, "Rumors."

As a little kid, I'll be honest, the first thing that excited me about the record was the cover because Mick Fleetwood had a pair of balls dangling from strings like a nut sack. Balls were funny then, and they still are. And I like how Stevie Nicks gazes in the general direction of his dangling crawdads with a look of utmost sincerity. Within the lyric sheet insert there are a series of photographs, and in one there is a guy smoking a joint. I remember hearing at school how terrible and illegal drugs were, so I thought that by pressing this album, the police could go to that guy's house and arrest him for drug use. Isn't it weird how brainwashed and confused little Kenneth Noisewater was from public education?

There were two simultaneous break ups going on within Fleetwood Mac at the time they made "Rumours." Bass player John McVie and his wife, keyboard player and singer Christie McVie, were going through a divorce. Christie was seeing a new guy, and she wrote a song about her rejuvenated faith in love called "You Make Loving Fun." John had to play bass on a song about his wife being all excited about fucking someone new! This fueled his already heavy drinking. John would be one of the first guys into the studio to record his parts, and he would often be the first one done because he would pass out.

Lindsay Buckingham, singer and guitarist, was also splitting up with his girlfriend, singer and hippy-chick poet all-star, Stevie Nicks. Stevie was taking it really hard and wrote an amazing song called "Dreams" all about it. Not to be outdone, Lindsey wrote one too called "Go Your Own Way." So, four of the five members were having break-ups with each other, and that left drummer, Mick Fleetwood, who was in the midst of a failing marriage with his wife. The pain and heartache all five members were experiencing at the time could have spelt disaster, but it was instead channeled into a catharsis that became one of the best albums in rock history; certainly the best break up album. In fact, all five members are given writing credit for an extremely moving piece of music called "The Chain." That's one of those songs that even as a 7-year-old kid, nowhere near dating any chicks or having any breakups of my own, I knew that song was somehow important. It was just majestic.

2. My sister and I probably played Three Dog Night the most. I remember big sister and her friend made a dance routine to "One," of all songs, and would play it over-and-over again to rehearse their steps. My parents still talk about a trip we took to Pittsburgh where us two and the kids of our family friends were spontaneously singing "Joy To the World" during any downtime. I didn't know at the time, but Three Dog Night was a cover band. I loved "Try a Little Tenderness" as a youngster and had no idea that Otis Redding did it first. "Celebrate," and "Old Fashioned Love Song" we also liked. We thought "Eli's Coming" was about some sort of bad boogie man type coming to get everyone. Then up until recently I thought it was a song warning people against a cock block buddy of his. Allow me to explain.

What he's really saying:

"Eli's coming, hide your heart girl."

What I thought he was saying:

"Eli's coming, hide your hot girl."

Not at all about a cock block. My apologies. 

3. My mom and dad had only one Rolling Stones album called "Gimme Shelter." One side, to my recollection, were recorded versions of "Gimme Shelter," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Street Fighting Man," "Honkey Tonk Woman," and "Love In Vain." The other side was a collection of live songs, the only which I know for sure were "Satisfaction" and "Under My Thumb." My sister and I rarely gave that side a spin.

What I do remember is feeling so sad when I heard "Love In Vain." It's a Robert Johnson cover. He is the blues legend from the 1930's who was rumored to have sold his soul in exchange for a brief and wondrous career that would prove to be extraordinarily influential to blues and later rock music. There is only that one session of recordings and that one picture that we always see of the man. In any event, it wasn't just Jagger's pained vocals that struck a chord, so to speak, with me. Mick Taylor's slide guitar was wailing away in anguish in a way 7-year-old Ken just didn't hear on the 1980's radio stations that were playing Kajagoogoo around that time.

My parents threw out all their records some time in the early 2000's, but I have since tracked down my own copies of some of them. However, I don't have that same Stones record. What I have is "Let It Bleed," largely because of that "Love In Vain" cover is one there. In a case of tragic music-lover irony, the only song on either side that skips is none other than "Love In Vain."

It's all the more a sad song to hear Mick keeps saying

"I followed her to the station . . . With a suitcase in my hand (hic), in my hand (hic), in my hand (hic), in my hand (hic) . . ."


Gorilla Bananas said...

So why do people still listen to vinyl records instead of digital recordings? Does it mean the new technology isn't better after all? Or is it the ritual of pulling the record out of its cover, placing in it the gramophone and watching it revolve?

Kono said...

Good Doctor are you a vinyl nerd as well? I fucking love vinyl, got into in 2002? when i saw the White Stripes in a tiny club and picked up every record they had, now it's a full blown habit, got away from it a little bit when the boyos were younger and my house was smaller and i had no room but now i'm back on track... and to answer Gorilla's questions, yes to i do believe it sounds better than digital, more organic shall we say, and yes i do love the ritual of pulling out the record and cleaning it and watching as the needle touches vinyl...

I used to sit and listen to Jim Croce, Elvis, CCR and old Motown 45's when i was a kid on this big 8-track/phono combo my parents had.

And i do love shitty midwest beer, i've had my share of Old Style, we used to drink Old Bohemian tall boy 5 packs, dubbed as such cuz the cans were so cheap and thin that one usually had a hole in giving you a can of flat, shitty beer perfect for say curing constipation...

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

Gorilla: It's a little each, but probably more the latter for me, anyway. I do believe that it sounds better. I feel like you can have it on a low volume but still hear all of the instruments. But I'll admit a lot of is it the aesthetics of the records and the paperwork, and just knowing that they're old and have had like 10 owners over the years.

Kono: So I'm guessing you're from the Detroit area if you saw White Stripes in a small club and have enjoyed some Old Style? We pretty much answered Gorilla's question the same way! Rock on. Hey, I just bought some crappy micro brew IPA and all the cans deflated in the fridge. They all suddenly had dents in them, and not from being dropped or anything. It was like the air was sucked out of them, and it tasted like crap and smelled worse. I suffered through drinking two and used the rest to boil brats.

Mr. Shife said...

Excellent post, Dr. Ken. Hope the tall boy and the record sale went well. I know all about Old Style but since I don't live out in the Midwest we just get to enjoy Rainier. I don't know if it has made it over to your area. Possibly, but it's definitely not going to win any awards at a beer fest. Hope Mrs. Noisewater is doing well and look forward to hearing about Baby Noisewater soon.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

THE Shife: It started at 9AM, but when I got there at 9:30 it was already so crowded and picked over. There were his buddies sitting in lawn chairs with giant stacks of records they had already purchased. Totally picked over. I told the guy he could sit on one of those tall boys and spin for all I care. No, I didn't tell him that.

I have heard of Rainier and all it's horrible glory. Are the DABS (Day After Beer Shits) as bad as I'm imagining?

Mrs. Noisewater is so damn plucky and active with a giant pregnant belly. I honestly don't know how she does it. I would be complaining constantly. Nobody would ever knowingly knock me up again. Anyway, we are pretty pumped for Baby Noisey Water. That kid will for sure make lots of noise in our little apartment . . .

E. Rosewater said...

i had hundreds of vinyl records and foolishly sold them dirt cheap when we moved. i don't really miss the scratchy music but i had an awful lot of good memories rolling reefers on the album covers.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

E. Rosewater: I bet those albums smelled terrific.

Jimmy Fungus said...

I can't imagine a band with so many breakups going on managing to put together an amazing album like Rumors. At least I know some of the history behind that album now thanks to you. Good luck with the baby, Dr. Nooisewater.

Jules said...

Sold all my vinyl and now regret it. There's something about scratchy old records and particularly with a nice "warm" beer. *English taste;)*

Exile on Pain Street said...

What do you mean "CHEAP?" What the fuck, holmes?! You wanna rephrase that?

The baby is like a houseguest that won't ever leave. You'll see what I mean soon enough. And you need an engineering degree to properly install a car seat. Wait until you have to deal with pack-and-plays! Oy!

"One" was written by Harry Nilsson, who was a true genius. Look him up.

Mr. Shife said...

Good day, sir. Hope all is well in the Noisewater household. Any news?

Vapid Vixen said...

Balls are always funny.

It is now September 3rd. How is Mrs. Noisewater? Has she broken her bagina yet? And do you guys even know what you're having or were you going to be surprised?

Mr. Shife said...

Congrats to you and Mrs. Noisewater. I saw the news on FB. Very happy for you.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

Jimmy: Oh, that's cool that I could educate you about that album. There is a good book all about it that I read written by the producer of the album.

Jules: Thanks for coming by. Warm, cold, whatever. Beer and music go together.

Exile: I think I'll only be drinking "cheap" beers from here on out because babies are expensive! We don't have a pack and play yet, but this guy LOVES the rock and play. He won't sleep for a long time anywhere else. Babies all have their own quirks. As for the car seats, I found a place that will check if you have it done correctly and safely totally for free. They were great.

Vapid: September 8th we had a baby boy, and he's cute as all get out. Pictures will be coming soon. Right now I'm so tired that I can't even think straight. You're going to LOVE being a parent. I'm so tired but so happy.

Shife: Thanks so much for being my blog buddy all these years, and now I can relate to you even more than before. You're my boy, Blue!!!!!