Friday, March 31, 2006

Don't Bogart that Crate, My Friend.

It all started with a milk crate my Dad brought home from work one day.

I didn't know it then, but the contents of that crate would change my life.
My whole life.
And I appreciate it more than I can even explain to you.

I'm not sure why it made it's way to our home.
That milk crate.
Maybe it was just luck.
I vaguely recall something
about someone's son
getting into some trouble and alleged story shortened,
his Dad was getting rid of his albums for punishment.

I didn't realize just how torturous of a punishment that was....
for this mysterious troubled teenager, that I never met.

Until I fell in love with his albums.

Yes sir, that was a whole milk crate full of punishment.
Poor guy.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for whatever he did to tip the music gods in my favor.
Up until that day, my favorite albums were Shawn Cassidy, Barry Manilow and I Love Monsters, by Ronco.
A sad state of affairs, to say the least.

You know, back then I always imagined he got caught smoking a "joint".
Guessed that might have been the.... you know.... trouble.
I had heard about weed and grass and joints on After School Specials.

Getting caught with such things could surely lead to L.P. interruptus.
It was decided in my imaginative young brain that must have been exactly that scenario.
Of what went down that fateful day.
Of course, immediatley, the fact that these albums now belonged to a real life druggie made them beyond magical to me.

You see, I have always been really good at creating my own fantasic realities, based on mere threads of truth.

So, it was with great excitement that I peered into the red preforated cube, bearing the image of a smiling cow.
I could see it was full and quite heavy as my Dad put it on the floor next to our huge stereo-cabinet.
I got down on my knees and squatted to see what stoned teenagers were living their lives to.

My life changed that very moment.
Replaying that scene in my mind makes me want to cry tears of happiness.

WIth each flip of a colorful cardboard sleeve, I was becoming more educated.
More stylish.
More aware.
And definitely more rock and roll.

I can still remember how they smelled.
They smelled like experience.
And make-out basements.
And older brothers.
And dairy.

I had a hard time deciding which one to play first.
but went with Pablo Cruise.
Nice little introduction, kind of soft core. I liked the palm tree, I think, is why I chose it.
A few songs I could get into, but nothing could've prepared me for what was next:

Farewell to Kings, by Rush.

I often wonder, if someone was playing close attention to me during that exact moment, or had filmed me with a special camera as I listened to Rush for the first time,
if they could have actually seen childish images of Kermit, Easy Reader and The Sunshine Family leaving my brain and floating off to never ever land being replaced with madrigals including and dragons, unicorns, crumbing castles and other worlds.

I was mesmerized by the album cover and the scary puppet king it featured.
Geddy Lee's voice sent a creepy and shiver straight to my marrow.
I would crave it for years and still do sometimes.

Each album was better than the next...I could hardly contain my excitement each time a laid a big shiny black disk down.

Toys in the Attic by Aerosmith was pure sex to me the first time I heard it.
It was gritty and hard and his voice. Oh! His voice!
Steven Tyler was my first heart wrenching crush.
He made the Village People poster on my bedroom wall seem downright silly.
That poster came down in the weeks following my new obsession.

If I wasn't at school or riding my bike I was found laying on the living room carpet, with my head as close to the upholstered rust orange speakers as comfortably possible. Hours were spent sucking on my pigtail ends and soaking in album after album, reading the lyrics and the "special thanks to" sections and wishing I had pants like that.

I can't remember how many albums there actually were,
but just for memory's sake I'm going to try and list a few here:

Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon 1973
The Eagles, Hotel California 1976
Pablo Cruise,A Place in the Sun 1977
Foghat, Fool for the City 1975
Rush, Farewell to Kings 1977
Aerosmith, Toys in the Attic 1975
Aerosmith, Draw the Line 1977
Billy Joel, The Stranger 1977
Reo Speedwagon,You Can Tune a Piano, but you Can't Tuna Fish 1978
Ted Nugent, Cat Scratch Fever 1977
Joe Walsh, But Seriously Folks. 1978

I know there were more...

But yes, it was a summer that changed my life.
As a 10 year old, I was grateful for a glimpse into what it was going to be like to be a teenager.
As an adult I am grateful for the the deep love of music I now have and the imagination it inspires in me daily.

So thanks to the rockers of the 70's...
And thanks to my Dad for taking the effort to bring the crate home to us.
And most of all thanks to the teenage stoner largely responsible for assembling a music collection that made me what I am today.
Rock on, dude.
Rock on.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're welcome. Dad

Friday, 31 March, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I remember that crate too. It's funny my memory is a little less vivid then yours but I remember the covers of those albums and that they were all worn in like the kid had played them to death - but the records themselves were in pretty good shape so he must have treated them with care. I remember the Ted Nugent cover folded out which I thought was cool and the You Can Tune a Piano cover was just kinda fascinating. I might still have that rush album (but no Pablo Cruise anymore ;-) - C

Friday, 31 March, 2006  

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