Thursday, June 23, 2016

Crazy for vinyl

By 1967, the year I started buying LPs, I hadn't completely surrendered the Beatles, but they had certainly ceded any primacy they might have had to other artists: the LA garage quartet The Seeds, for one; the Dallas-based Five Americans; Bob Dylan, whose Greatest Hits was my first LP purchase (though I had to borrow about fifty cents from my mother to supplement the couple of bucks I had on hand). This was probably within a week of when the rest of the universe was lining up for Sgt Pepper and it's possible the price differential had an effect on my choice. But later that summer I began working at my grandfather's gas station pumping gas, washing windshields, checking oil, battery, radiator and tires, excited by the occasional tip. Most of my disposable income, as well as I can recall, started going to records. My 45s came mostly from the pharmacy across the street from the family church or from a television shop in a nearby shopping center which displayed the Billboard Hot 100 in thin wooden supports on the wall. LPs probably came as frequently as possible from Gibson's, the discount store which was, in some ways, probably a precursor to that current behemoth that starts with a W. For a while, my memory tells me, mono LPs were $2.47 plus tax and stereo LPs were $2.87, or $3.17, plus tax. But honestly, distribution wasn't all that good in those days, and we probably bought our LPs where we could find them--except of course for the really big groups whose records were everywhere. But I was already skewing oddball in a lot of ways, I reckon.

Later that same summer I got to see The Seeds in concert at some kind of small scale indoor festival or fair in Ft Worth. I won the tickets on the radio! The fair lasted a few days, and other bands played there--The Doors certainly, and maybe The Boxtops, come to mind, but it was The Seeds I wanted to see. At that point, I think the 45 rpm single of "A Thousand Shadows" was my only Seeds record. I took the paper sleeve of it with me to the fair and managed to get all the band members' autographs on it. Not long after, I used some of my salary to buy the mono version of their first album, the one with "Pushin' Too Hard", from the grocery store music selection across the street from the gas station. And not too long after that I bought the current release, the psychedelic Future, which was probably my favorite LP for a good while, especially the sprawling closer "Fallin'". I don't think I'd ever seen A Web of Sound then, and certainly its lead-off single "Mr Farmer" hadn't been played on Dallas radio. I'm sure it's a weird mix to some of you--Dylan's greatest hits, two Seeds LPs, and the Five Americans' Western Union LP, all bought within a few months. I also saw The Five Americans in concert that summer, on a bill with Buffalo Springfield, which would've been a favorite solely for "For What It's Worth" then. That Christmas my little mono suitcase-style record player got replaced by my first stereo, a plastic fold up model which had detachable speakers. And LPs? Buffalo Springfield Again, A Web of Sound by The Seeds, and A Full Spoon of Seedy Blues by the Sky Saxon Blues Band (actually The Seeds). As a younger boy, I'd spent all my money on car models. No more. I wanted records. My parents were surely wishing I'd regress a couple of years.


David N. James said...

Hey, Fella. This is such an enjoyable read. Maybe a memoir fragment? Based on what I read here I think fleshing out a whole memoir would work well.

Cooper Renner said...

You're always so kind! I'm not sure I have the energy for anything connected. Maybe a collection of fragments like this.