Sunday, December 26, 2010

Singles Going Steady

1nce I was old enuf 2 get out&about w/o the help of my parents, I started seeking out my own places 2 buy music. 1nce we moved back 2 Idaho, I was disappointed 2 discover there wasn't much 2 choose from within walking or bike-riding distance of my house, 4 music-buying purposes.
1 old department store -- an old Boise landmark called Grand Central (long closed-up) -- was able 2 supply me w/ copies of "Tubular Bells" & "I've Been Searchin' So Long," + a couple albums, The Carpenters' SINGLES & Neil Diamond's DOUBLE GOLD best-of -- but the store wasn't much 4 atmosphere. I hadta seek that out elsewhere.
Thanx 2 old highschool buddy Jeff Mann, we began journeying 2 such places as Budget Tapes and Records, The Nickelodeon, & The Musicworks -- where I Nded-up working a coupla yrs later.
Nickelodeon was pretty great 4 atmosphere -- there was a Head Shop next door (closed within a coupla yrs), & a "balcony"-style 2nd floor w/ nothing but Xotic imported albums & used records. I bought a copy of "Born to Run" there, but Nickelodeon seemed geared more 2 pot-smokers than 2 "serious" music fans. By the time The Musicworks bought the store a coupla yrs later & I briefly pulled a few shifts there, the Head Shop was gone & hardly NE people came in....
Budget was perhaps somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. With a whole long wall full of pre-recorded factory cassettes & a full table's worth of cheap "cutout" albums (from which R friend Don Vincent could pull brilliant-yet-unheard-of albums with amazing skill), Budget was briefly the destination of choice. I grabbed Blue Oyster Cult's AGENTS OF FORTUNE & Janis Ian's BETWEEN THE LINES and AFTERTONES from Budget. (Bet that's the only time U'll ever see Janis Ian & BOC mentioned in the same sentence....)
Budget also had a clerk named Robb Campbell who seemed really cool, knew his music trivia, later worked for Musicworks, & was 4 awhile a DJ at the local college radio station, KBSU. Robb's show was the only time I've ever heard stuff like King Crimson's "Starless" & Steeleye Span's "Alison Gross" played on the radio.
The Musicworks was a little more family-oriented, but the folks who worked there told great music-related stories -- store manager Gary Apter helped Caravan haul their equipment in2 a concert in San Francisco -- & just walking in2 the store you'd overhear an ongoing musical game of Can You Top This? They were all hilarious & fast & smart & cool -- no suprise I wanted 2 work there.
+ they hadda HUGE selection that covered the spectrum from rock 2 punk 2 country 2 jazz 2 classical. + imports, & 2 WALLS full of cutouts, amazing stuff amazingly cheap -- LOTS of old ECM jazz releases, Gryphon's amazing RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE, Can's FUTURE DAYS, EGE BAMYASI & SOON OVER BABALUMA (neat covers, but I knew nothing about Can then), old Hawkwind albums like HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN GRILL, & TONS more.
The store staff probly had me marked from the moment I walked in the door. I walked in asking if they had any copies of Boise band Providence's album EVER SENSE THE DAWN (which had bn outta print 4 5 yrs by then). Gary said it was EZ -- just give him $2,000 & I could have his copy of the album. (I later found 6 copies 4 $2.19 each -- they made great Xmas presents that yr.) Gary quoted me the same price 4 a copy of Cheech & Chong's "Santa Claus and His Old Lady" 45.
Musicworks only stocked about the Top 30 local 45's, but I was getting 2 the point where I was more intrested in albums. During early visits 2 the store I bought copies of The Beatles' '62-'66 & '67-'70, the WHITE ALBUM & ABBEY ROAD. This was followed by almost the entire Moody Blues catalog, & Mike Oldfield's TUBULAR BELLS & OMMADAWN. Yes's YESSONGS came soon after. Then Caravan's FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT, King Crimson's imported best-of THE YOUNG PERSON'S GUIDE TO...., & after that you couldn't stop me.
At 1 point, Don & Jeff & I all shared an apartment that was basically right around the corner from the store -- & 4 awhile I would pop in there EVERY DAY & just BROWSE 4 an hr or 2. & sometimes I wouldn't even BUY anything. It was fun just 2 hang-out & overhear the jokes & conversation.
I probly nagged them 4 months B4 a job opened up. Store-owner Steve Breen didn't wanna hire another music freak -- he wanted somebody w/ some cashiering Xperience, which luckily I had. + I guess I was nice enuf 2 people. Steve gave me a music-trivia test, which I'm pretty sure I failed (could YOU name all the members of Van Morrison's 1978 backing band?) -- but somehow a few days later assistant mgr Robin Royball called 2 ask if I'd B intrested in working part-time Tuesdays & Fridays, 8 hrs a wk.
U bet yr ass I was intrested, since I'd bn unemployed 4 6 months & had bn forced 2 move back in w/ my parents -- I jumped at it. I Nded up staying with The Musicworks 4 almost 3 years -- it was my Dream Job. When my shift was over I stayed as long after as possible just 2 B THERE, cos the rest of my life seemed pretty boring in contrast.
I Nded-up Bcoming a full-time employee w/ MW, even hadda T-shirt w/ the store's logo, which I wore ALL THE TIME.
After a yr or 2 I became the 4-store chain's official "singles buyer," responsible 4 making sure we had all the local hot hits on sale in R stores. It was a lotta fun trying 2 guess what Idaho teens circa 1980 would & wouldn't buy.
Unfortunately, I had pretty-much given-up listening 2 local radio about 3 years earlier, so I was maybe a little out-of-touch (tho not as much as I am now). Among many other achievements, I was the guy who told my bosses that Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" would NEVER be a hit....

1 comment:

rastronomicals said...

So, potheads aren't serious music fans? Not sure I can agree with that.

Of course it's a long time ago now, but betweeen the ages of 15 and 20 or so, I was very serious about both my herb AND my music.

Prog rock and dope dovetailed quite nicely, I think, at least before the grass started making me all paranoid. No accident that the latenight headphone mixtapes I'd make were usually full of prog with its trippy whooshing synthesizer pitchbends. I appreciated the stuff, don't get me wrong, but it was also good for head, if you know what I'm saying.

But be that as it may, your post also makes me think of how every headshop I went into back then had this small, neglected section of used records. Who bought their records at a headshop? Not even the Waviest Graviest Deadhead, I don't think. . . .