Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Beatles (iii)

This was one of the first albums that Dad scored at the Music Exchange, and I was surprised to see that there was more to discover and listen to by these guys, even though we hadn't been listening to them much in the past few months. Understandably, it was still a little hard to listen to. but I put it aside so I could try to enjoy it. I heard the first album from it in one sitting, and I was amazed how it went from baroque psychedelia to stripped-down non-psychedelia, and then closing with a rollicking, bollocking rocker like "Revolution". I got to hear the second record a little later, but I wasn't impressed with most of the material at first. For some reason, it sounded tired and uninspired to me; it wasn't until later on that I would hear about the tensions running through the band at that point, and then I could understand why it sounded like that to me.
Red Fred went to the Exchange and got himself a copy of one of their albums that had just a plain white cover with only their name sort of printed on the front. I got to hear some of it when he gave it a spin; again, the same tiredness was going on through the music to me, and it didn't make for easy or enjoyable listening. I lost interest rather quickly when "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" played; it just didn't sound right hearing something like this, and I left the house without hearing the rest of the album. It wasn't until seven years later that we got a copy of the "White Album", and I thoroughly enjoyed it, spending a whole summer listening to it.
One more little place that Dad discovered was a shop on North I Street called The Collector's Nook, which was a dusty little place filled with old newspapers, books, magazines, and a few boxes of albums in a disused corner. I got to go there with him one sunny summer day in 1981. Among Robin Trower's Bridge Of Sighs and Wings' Wings Over America was a beat-up but playable copy of Abbey Road. We got it home, and this was the first of the albums that he played. I was impressed with this one, maybe because I recognized most of the songs from the Sgt. Pepper movie, only this was the Real Thing. I didn't quite understand the ride-out of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" with all of the hissing and distortion; I thought the previous owner had played the album with a bad needle or something, and then it mercifully cut off. The second side was just as pleasurable, although we were sort of shocked when we heard "Her Majesty", as this was a first pressing of the album that didn't have the title on the cover or the label.
In December of 1981, there was a one-year anniversary vigil for John Lennon at Wright Park. This was something I had completely forgotten about until seeing a mention of it in the Tacoma News Tribune some twenty-five years later. I don't remember anything that went on at the gathering, but I do remember just Dad and myself going there for it. I guess we had really bonded together in the year since then. I knew that John Lennon had a son who was around my same age, and Sean Lennon was sort of a hero to my at that point, as he head really held himself together in the months since the incident, at least from what I would see in the occasional newspaper article on him. I couldn't imagine going through something like that. It would be a little chilling that something similar would happen with me almost 30 years to the day.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Green Is The Colour

It was after the turn of the new year, possibly right around my fifth birthday, that we moved again. The people who owned the Red House eventually found out about us living there, and we had to move out. This would the fifth place we'd lived in within the last five years, but this one was only just over a mile down the street. It was at 908 South J Street, a two-story house that was painted a sickly green color. Eventually, the house was painted about six months later, but was painted pine-green, with lime-green trim.
Three things had some pretty heavy and profound changes. The first was that the foundation of the family was crumbling; the cracks that appeared at the Red House had not been sealed, and were only getting worse as time went on. Indeed, in two years' time, the family would split right down the middle, never to patch up again.
Secondly, Angie and I met a kid in the neighborhood named Mitchell, and we were completely inseparable for the next few years. We got into all kinds of hijinks and mischief that would fill out a blog on its own, and memories of those times still put a smile on my face, all these years later. Sometimes, just being among the three of us was more fun and comforting than the atmosphere at home.
Lastly, the musical doors kept opening, and would keep doing so for the next five years in that house, and almost right from the start. There was a small place on 11th Street called The Music Exchange, just two blocks down from the house; it was a small place, but they had stereo equipment, loads of second-hand albums, and 8-Tracks for cheap, because nobody seemed to want those anymore. Dad even re-bought another 8-Track deck (and a bunch of tapes to go with it), but that didn't last too long, because some of the tapes would jam, stick or spew out their insides in the middle of playing. And so the emphasis went back over to the cassette format, where it stayed. But this place would be where I first took an interest in collecting albums.
Another place that opened up a little later was the Hilltop Pawn Shop on the corner of 11th and K Streets. It's funny now to think of a pawn shop carrying albums, but they once did, and there would be some good ones to find. Of course, some of them would have the previous owner's name scrawled onto them with Magic Marker on the labels and outside covers, sometimes even chiseled onto the covers with ballpoint pen.
In addition to lots of music I would discover, there would also soon be new ways of experiencing them as well that I never thought possible, or would happen so soon.