Thursday, August 5, 2010

Buy Me a Song.

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

“Daddy, Daddy THAT’S the song! THAT’S the song I want to buy! PLEEEEEZE, can I have fifty-four cents?” That wishful chant happened in the backyard on our patio. I was the one chanting. THAT song was oozing from the “jukebox” which was hooked up to the stereo inside the house. Well, it really wasn’t a jukebox, just a giant speaker. Originally painted white, on this particular day it was proudly wearing a color that us kids were told was lavender. Trust me, it was pink, and could have been called “muted Pepto-Bismol”.

Oh, but the sounds that came out of that "jukebox substitute" from both the radio and records. In my youngest days, it was a blend of Rock ‘n’ Roll, crooners, Country and Western, and traditional German songs. The mix included Nate King Cole, Jerry Vale, Johnny Cash, Everly Brothers, Cousin Brucie on WABC, and the Beer Barrel Polka.

The playlist morphed into something quite different a few years later. German songs gave way to Danish ones. Show tunes and soundtracks emerged: West Side Story, Half a Sixpence, Mame. Rock ‘n Roll lived on, however, there was an on-going conflict between my Dad and Step-Mom over whether or not Rock 'n Roll should be heard. Thankfully, it still was.

Dad of course needed justification in order to give me the fifty-four cents. He had to actually LIKE the song. And yes, he did fork over the dough; otherwise, there’d be no tale to tell. 

Soon after the funds were surrendered to me there I was at Woolworths gazing at the rack of 45’s, anxiously searching for THAT song. And there it was! Eagerly, I grabbed my treasure and marched over to the cash registers, where I promptly paid for that platter with the sacrificial coins from Dad. Yes! My first real purchase of a record. Sure, I owned records already and had accumulated a small collection. They weren’t bought by me, but acquired in other ways; I was notorious for stealing my brother’s records including both their “Here come the Judge” 45’s. Other discs came my way as gifts.

Why this record? I had connected with this song, and though I had no clue as to what the song was truly about, I felt drawn to it by the soaring vocals and the lyrics. I knew that it was about people coming together. I knew it was about peace. But as far as the inspiration for those words it was something I’d learn about later on.

In the privacy of my room, seated on the floor, wearing those larger than life headsets, I spun that 45. Three minutes and 49 seconds of pure bliss. Over and over. Funny, I do the same thing nowadays, only nowadays with digital tracks on my iPod instead.

Now you know and I know that those turntables from our youth perhaps didn’t have the highest quality. And records certainly weren’t made to last forever. But we could fix those skips and improve the quality ourselves by placing a penny on the stylus, couldn’t we? And so, I did. Soon, Melanie ceased singing “Lay down, lay it down, lay it all down”. Instead, she sang “Lay down, psssssssssssssssssst, lay it all down”. But that was okay, because her next release, “Peace Will Come” became my new favorite 45. And so the process begins again.


Tim Armstrong said...

Wonderful! I love the "penny on the stylus" reference - something I often had to do with well used 45's!

Anonymous said...

It's great to read the memories of that first real buy, lol. I know many still with that first record bought on their own, some can't give them up. Thank you for sharing.

Paul said...

Great post, I remember going so far as stacking change on the stylus! LOL

CowtownLady said...

Great choice for the first 45rpm purchase! It's a memorable event, almost like voting for the first time. That was a great time, hearing the AM radio DJ spin the tunes, and the semi-weekly ceremonial requisition for funds from the parental units which would grant us access to these fragile spinning treasures. It's a shame the industry and the product became so adulterated that our kids and grand kids never really got to enjoy the same fun we had.

AlexandraFunFit said...

Somewhere, I'm sure I still have one of those little yellow swirly plastic things that went inside the 45s to make them fit on the record player.

Anonymous said...

Oh 45's! My brother was the owner of the record player and the records. He would put a stack on and we would sing them together! I remember them all, but particularly swooning over the Monkeys! Great memories you brought up for me Groovy Girl!

Mary in Alabama

Anonymous said...

I can remember the first record player I got for Christmas it folded like a suitcase , and 4 records.One was "White room by Cream", and I did remember the other three but they escape me!Played them over and over. I have always loved music and back in the day I liked all kinds! I like most music and Love the 60's 70's and half of the 80's!

Anonymous said...

Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) love it. I too remember the penny on the stylus. Hey, it worked. And, I too had a record player that folded up like a suitcase. Wish the good ol' days could be here again.

Joe Haller said...

I had the 45 as well. For some reason it did not click for a long time that the Edwin Hawkins Singers were on that record. Melanie was so cooooool !!!!