Thursday, December 23, 2010

Buying 45's

1 of the reasons I got hooked on buying 45-rpm singles back when I was growing up was Bcos of the mostly-neat places that sold them. 1 of the 1st places I ever bot 45's was at Tacoma, Wash.'s famous B&I -- a sorta cross Btween a flea market & a Turkish Bazaar, with 100's of stalls selling everything from jewelry 2 furniture ... + there was an indoor zoo & a game arcade.
Every week Mom & Dad would load my Sister & I in2 the car, haul us in2 town 2 wander around the B&I 4 an hr or 2, mayB followed by dinner at McDonald's. Mainly it was just an Xcuse 2 get out of the house at least 1nce a wk.
During 1 of these wanderings I stumbled over the records section, at 1st not even realizing what it was. My eye was at least partially attracted by huge posters 4 then-fairly-current album releases like Santana's ABRAXAS (hard 2 miss that 1 or not B attracted....), CSNY's DEJA VU, & a big gaudy pink&green day-glo poster of Frijid Pink (remember them?).
The next time we visited, the records section had been moved -- & Xpanded. Not only did they have LOTsa albums (which I couldn't afford then) -- they had the Top 75 singles on sale in a huge singles section that took up three "walls" of the records dept or booth or whatever.
R local Top Singles list each wk totaled 100 titles -- many of which U can B sure I don't remember ever hearing on the radio, & some of which I've never heard since. Wouldn't I love 2 C those lists now, & I wonder who compiled them back in the day...?
When I started buying 45's in late 1970, a single ran 77 cents at B&I. Sometimes U could find them cheaper -- my closest local grocery store had a few not-current 45's arranged in a couple of little cardboard boxes, 4 69 cents each. That's where I found a copy of Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4" in the summer of '71. The local grocery also hadda coupla singles on the Moody Blues' Threshold label that'R probly worth some $$$ now. Wish I could remember who they were by....
If anything, B&I had TOO MANY CHOICES. Imagine Bing an 11- or 12-yr-old music fanatic without even an allowance, whose parents might grudgingly LET you buy a single or 2 1nce or 2wice a month. Then yr faced with 75 possible choices on how 2 spend yr $$$.
Some purchases were immediate no-brainers: "Joy to the World," "American Pie," "Signs," etc. Others hadta B put-off. I thot the Rolling Stones' "Tumbling Dice" was GREAT, but it came out at the wrong time, there were other songs I wanted more (& now I can't remember what they were) -- so it hadta B put-off til the next trip, & by then copies were either gone off-sale or there was something ELSE I wanted....
(The B&I still Xists, but it ain't the same -- tho there R even MORE little stalls & stores there now, & the records section is long gone, needless 2 say....)
Then my parents discovered K-Mart. This was not so much fun. This K-Mart store kept their 45's in a locked cabinet, so you hadta go find the records dept guy w/ the key. The 1 time I remember buying NEthing there, the guy w/ the key was talking over current pop trends w/ my Dad -- it was 1 of those "What kind of weird shit are kids listening to NOW?"-kinds of conversations. The guy was describing the Buoys' hit "Timothy," which was a thinly disguised cannibalism tale, a song which had hit #1 locally without ever getting played on the radio as far as I knew. The song was a mystery to me.
But my Dad topped him: My Mom had signed us up 4 Capitol Records' 8-Track Tape Club, & 1 of the tapes we received was a Capitol-label various-artists' best-of that included Bloodrock's gruesome "D.O.A.," 1 of the ugliest pieces 2 ever make the Top 40.
& my Dad told the guy: "Ever hear that song 'D.O.A.'? It'll blow your mind."
(My Dad hardly EVER said something would "blow your mind" -- in 44 years I've heard him use that phrase twice. & Bsides, there was 1 great song on that Capitol best-of -- Linda Ronstadt's "Long Long Time"....)
4 awhile my folks listened 2 everything I bought -- making sure I wasn't getting corrupted by that heathen rock&roll, I'm pretty sure. But after "Joy to the World" they pretty much gave up. Probly a good thing they never heard "Signs." Or "Maggie Mae." I still remember their reaction a few yrs later when we sat down 2 dinner w/ Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" playing on the radio in the background. When it got 2 the "opera" section toward the Nd, my parents both said -- almost in unison -- "What in the hell is THIS shit?" My parents weren't big rock& roll fans....
-- To be continued....


rastronomicals said...

Didn't buy many singles as a tchmack--I was always hoping that whatever song I was wanting would be in the next grocery bag of singles my old man brought home.

However I do remember buying both "Philadelphia Freedom" by Elton John and
"One Way or Another" by Blondie. Think I got the Elton John at K-mart (my old man moonlighted there for a while, selling cameras and TV's), and pretty sure I got the Blondie at J Byron's. I remember the wooden cabinet they had at J Bryon's pretty well: 4 sets of 8" x 2" cubbies stacked ten high, the whole thing painted bright yellow, space for each member of the Top 40.

My preteen self wasn't always sure about where they got their data, though: I remember seeing a single by something called "Boz Scaggs," and wondering what the hey--"Lido Shuffle" got no airplay in South Florida at all.

Later on, in high school and college, I'd buy some '45's at Y & T's, SubPop stuff and other indie/punk type things, as well as a copy of "Hey Hey What Can I Do" that had been made in Japan, but it's funny: having purchased the indie 45's leaves less of a memory trace than simply having window-shopped that yellow cabinet.

drewzepmeister said...

I never really went out of my way to get any 45's. I've always been a completest as far as albums go, so why waste my time, money and space for something that I really don't need. However, I have bought 45's. Mainly for the B side tunes that I don't have in my collection.