Friday, June 30, 2006

Buying Dreams

I did something the other day that I hadn’t done in awhile – and I used to do this habitually, at the drop of the hat – and many times for no reason but for the soothing cultural aspects of the event itself.

I bought some CD’s.

Back in the day this was “buying albums, cruising the record shop – hanging out at Evolution Records & Tapes, which was always half a record store and half a head shop. “Want a bong with those 10 albums, sir?”

Of course when we just had albums (not Cd’s) record buying was a fairly visual experience. Stores lined their windows with album covers and always had large cardboard displays pushing the latest new artist or somebody’s latest greatest release. And you could spend hours flipping through albums overstuffed in the bins. Back in those days you often bought records, not because you liked the music, but because the album cover was cool. Really. This doesn’t happen now. I can barely make out the liner notes. Now with CD’s and fairly sanitized multi-media stores this buying experience is not quite the incense-filled cool thing it once was.

Oh, another thing – the people working at such record stores were fairly laid back hippie types who knew about everything coming and going out of their store. You could ask them anything. “Is this any good?” “Nah their second album was the best” “Really?" “Really.”

And then there was the hot chick behind the counter. That’s how I discovered Springsteen. The music artist who singularly became the background soundtrack for much of my adult years. Because of Dahlia.

“Hey Dahlia (we were the same class in high school). What’s good right now? I need something new (I’m fucking 17 you know).”

“This Springsteen fellow is selling pretty good – and I think it is good”

“Really – I was wondering….”

I had stared at the Born to Run cover for weeks, if not months, in the stores. It was a singularly graphic cover. In the days where 70’s-type color and grooviness ruled - this black and white composite of Bruce with Clarence was a unique image. But what lied beneath it? We had heard the title song, but…

And not to overstate it but it started a love affair that lasted several decades. All because of the hot chick.

So flash forward to two weeks ago. My office is near a Target and I’m in there buying a frame for a picture of Deborah and I to send to my Dad for Father’s Day. I wander over the CD racks thinking at the time that my 300-plus albums are still sitting boxed up in Dad’s garage. The ones he grudgingly lugged up four stories of stairs to my dorm room my senior year in college because I had a hernia operation a week before. The same albums he said were a waste of money because they usually only had one good song on them. The albums I defended saying they were now concept albums and it was a new time in music. The only time we ever came close to a physical confrontation was arguing over that point. Those same five boxes of plastic and art.

So I find myself in a very familiar spot – but amongst Target shoppers. I have a lot of CD’s as well but I don’t troll the aisles looking for new stuff like I used to. I have XM satellite radio, I make my own tapes off my CD’s – I’m not really wanting for new stuff – I can get it when I want to.

But now I say to myself I want to find the CD of an act I saw on Leno. And while I’m looking I find myself buying three others. I have not made a 4 CD purchase in 6 years. I mean I’m too mature for this. But I do it – and I relive the feelings and thoughts I used to relish in, well too many years ago. Sounds stupid, but that’s what it was.

So this is what I bought:

+ Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten (Love the title song – so unique in this age of the same old same old)
+ Artic Monkeys – I have to find out what everyone is talking about; and I’ve been to their hometown Sheffield before (home of Def Leppard)
+ Chicago – Chicago 30 – well these are my oldtime faves, I just had to do it. Mistake though. Their last good year was 1987.

And what was I looking for?

The Wreckers - Stand Still, Look Pretty – a duo composed of super talented Michelle Branch and her back-up singer Jessica Harp. If Michelle Branch looked like Britney she would be the hands-down female pop/rocker girl act now. She decided to take a break from her solo career and cut this CD with Jessica and it’s a sublime country/pop disc. Check it out. Eagles with girls.

Buying music felt good. Again.

And Dad liked the picture.


wordgirl said...

Yeah...I do the XM radio thing, too. None of my kids listen to Arctic Monkeys, so I've aheard ABOUT them...but haven't heard them.

Chicago 30?? Wow...I stopped counting after awhile. Yeah...'87 was about the last good year. It was a good run while it lasted. I'd love for Cetera to come back for a reunion tour of the old stuff. I'd pay big to see it. I was making a bunch of compilation tapes/cds to play in the art studio where I'll be teaching and I put several old Chicago songs on there. Hey..if I don't teach them about Chicago, who will??

Tink said...

I go to the used music shop down the street and start grabbing random CDs. If they suck I can take them right back. I've found some really awesome artists that way:

The Postal Service
Snow Patrol

Rock said...

Snow patrol - that's another I should have picked up..