After weeks/months of relying on The Radio at work -- nothing but news-radio, phone-in talk shows and occasional drop-ins at music stations -- I'm now back to playing music CD's at work with a vengeance as summer really gets rolling.
The music helps keep me moving and less-stressed, and it sure changes people's moods when they walk into the store and hear something they recognize and like -- or something good they haven't heard before.
It also leads to some unexpected reactions. The music that's received by far the best response is John Coltrane's GIANT STEPS and Thelonious Monk's UNDERGROUND, two of my favorite jazz-blowing albums ever. Haven't heard any negative reviews about either of these. Makes me wonder where all these jazz fans were back in the '60s, when both Coltrane and Monk could have used the money....
Of course it's a whole different world now, and stuff that sounded a little different back then almost sounds "normal" now.
Have also been playing Miles Davis and Bill Laswell's PANTHALASSA -- remixes of Davis's later electric-jazz-rock period. No responses to these -- but I'm starting to like "Rated X" and "Billy Preston" and the ON THE CORNER stuff, have always liked IN A SILENT WAY, and I LOVE the Duke Ellington requiem "He Loved Him Madly" -- it's VERY different with its deep bass tones and huge, cavernous sound, and Miles's thin, mourning trumpet. I'd still like to know what cave they recorded it in.
One of the big jazz fans who comes in on weekends ID'd Monk right off, and asked what else I'd been playing. When I told him, and added that I had to have some kind of TUNE to hold onto, he said I'd better not grab Miles's BITCHES BREW, because there's not a single identifiable tune on it. So, guess I won't be going there in the future. JACK JOHNSON, maybe?
Also getting raves from unsuspecting members of the public:
* Deep Purple's "Highway Star" and "Space Truckin'," though I'm starting to really enjoy "Black Night," "Speed King" and "Demon's Eye" -- especially the funny musical and lyrical steals from Little Richard and Blues Magoos. The Purps were pretty great -- too bad it took me 40 years to figure that out....
* Fleetwood Mac's "Hypnotized" and "I Believe My Time Ain't Long." Of the latter, with its jagged, bluesy guitar, one customer said "That's some REAL music playing, right there...." "Hypnotized" triggered one woman telling me about seeing the Mac at the Tacoma Dome, and how great they were. Well, I was SUPPOSED to go to that show.... So I told her about me missing out on a chance to see Mac at the start of their TUSK tour -- man, I was an idiot back then. Also been playing the Mac's "Oh Well," "Green Manalishi," and "Why?"
* Icehouse's "Great Southern Land" -- One customer recognized the tune but didn't know who it was, hadn't heard it in YEARS. Always nice when I can surprise someone like that.
* Parliament's "P-Funk" -- One guy in his late teens responded "Oh, the classics?"
* One guy who's in the store almost every night has enjoyed everything I've played from Badfinger to Coltrane to Marvin Gaye to the Go-Go's: "You're all OVER the place, man!" "Just easily bored," I said.
* Jethro Tull's "Nothing is Easy" -- Sort of my theme song at work.
* Another guy liked the jazz, said I've been playing something jazzy every time he's been in: "I've gotta say, it's a really nice personal touch you never get in corporate-owned stores." I said that was too bad -- Real People work at corporate-owned stores, too.
If I know myself, it's just a matter of time 'til I get bored with CDs and go back to cassettes -- I'm already thinking I should bring my '80s-era tapes back in and REALLY shake people up.
Having a good time with this again. More to come....
Oh By The Way Department -- My three e-books will be available FREE through Amazon/Kindle over the next couple months. My newest book, the convenience-store memoir THE GAS NAZI!, will be available free from June 25th through the 29th. My newspaper-career memoir, THE CONFESSOR, will be free the week of my birthday, from Aug. 17th through 21st. The book that's closest to my heart, the record-store memoir GUARANTEED GREAT MUSIC!, will be available free from Aug. 1st through 5th.
Kindle wouldn't let me put all these out there for free all at the same time. Feel free to grab any of these you haven't gotten to yet while the getting's good -- but let me know what you think of them, OK?
The next time I have a new e-book I'm finished with and happy with, I will of course keep you posted. I'm not getting rich doing this, but I'm pretty happy with the way the writing's turned out -- and I just want to get the stuff Out There. So let me hear from you....