Friday, August 15, 2008

A story and a side note


I was sitting around at my brother's record store, in the shadow of the White Mountains, listening to some blues.
"Is that Gatemouth Brown," I asked.
"You're close," said the bro.
"T-Bone Walker."
"Close. next generation. Swingmasters."
"I was gonna guess that."
"You were scared to."
"No bad notes, that's for sure."
The phone rang.
"Yes, ma'am, we'll be right over," my brother said after listening for a minute.
He locked up the shop and we hopped into my 1987 Volvo 240 wagon with the graffiti all over the headliner.
A couple miles down the road past some mountain vistas, my brother pointed, and we pulled into the driveway.
A nice lady came out and Harlan introduced her to me. She led us down the hatch way into a dank cellar.
All around, there were boxes of old vinyl records. She gave us the tour.
"There's these," she said, pointing to some dank mildewy boxes.
"Those over there." We took a peek at the frayed dust jackets of tag sale detritus. Beethoven box sets. Stereo demonstration records. Old 45s.
Squeezing through the cramped aisle of the tiny basement, a light peered from the distance.
Harlan said to the lady, "can I show him that?"
We followed her toward the light. The dank smelly boxes gave way to some tidy shelves. The shelves had records on them. Ones that didn't smell.
The doorway to a little office was creaked open. That's where the light was coming from.
"This was where he worked," she said.
Until he dropped dead of a heart attack while skiing, she went on. Her late husband was pretty close to retiring from his teaching career. This was his lair, where he sold and traded records by mail order. His great hope was to retire, and then spend full time transferring his massive record inventory to the internet for sale at collector prices.
We tiptoed into the brightly lit office. Not a hair was out of place. I looked straight ahead at the shelf opposite me, just above eye level.
I reached for a record album that was displayed up there.
"This!" I hope I didn't startle the lady.
"I used to vacuum the floor to this record!," I said, startling myself.
By way of explanation, I said, you know how loud a vacuum cleaner is. Well, I would play this record even louder than the vacuum cleaner. It changed your whole perspective on mundane household tasks. Made you feel like you were in a widescreen epic film instead of chasing dust mites on the floor.
"And...."I climaxed, opening the box to show the booklet accompanying the record, "the liner notes are by my good friend, Michael H. Price."
This was none other than the rare limited, annotated reissue of The Big Country soundtrack, by the estimable composer Jerome Moross.
You could have heard a pin drop.
My brother Harlan let out a big gasp.
"We were just listening to the Swingmasters Revue," he noted accurately.
I put the record back up on the shelf.
We all looked at each other.
"I guess we better finish this job," somebody said.


Side Note: has been down for all of August and our hosting company hasn't been able to get us back up yet. We apologize for the inconvenience

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