Posts Tagged ‘music’

Dad Was a Stones Guy

In 1960s, 1970s, blues, country, Rich's House of Vinyl, rock, rock'n'roll, Rolling Stones on January 20, 2018 at 7:19 am



Beer, Girl Scout cookies and the Rolling Stones. Why am I not doing this every Friday night?

One Sunday afternoon, back in the late 1980s — or maybe the very early 1990s — my dad pulled into the driveway. I heard his car door slam, heard him bound up the steps, burst through the front door, and suddenly he was in my bedroom.

“Quick, turn on ‘MMR,” Dad commanded. “They’re playing some great old Stones song!”

Dad, who was typically a stoic, though hardly humorless guy, was practically beside himself with excitement. Since this hardly ever happened, I hastened to spin my radio’s dial to 93.3, WMMR, which for decades had been Philadelphia’s premiere rock station. As I hit the station, I heard Mick Jagger lasciviously intone, “we all need someone we can lean on…”

Dad was entranced. He was acting as if he was discovering “Let It Bleed” for the first time ever, though this couldn’t possibly be true. Dad was an early adopter of ‘MMR during its early years in the late 1960s, and “Let It Bleed,” the title track of an immensely popular Stones album, had to be in heavy rotation. Whether he’d ever heard it before or not, it was cool to see Dad so immersed in a tune on the radio.

As the slide guitar faded out and ‘MMR moved on to some other classic rock song, Dad went off to do whatever it was he intended to do before the Rolling Stones ecstasy took hold. The moment passed but I never forgot it.

Fast forward a few years. October 17, 1992. Our wedding reception. Dad and Uncle Charles, two guys I never normally thought of when the word “fast dancing” came to mind, hit the dance floor with Mom and Aunt Ruth to dance along to the Stones’ stone cold classic, “Brown Sugar.” With everything else happening on my wedding day, that was one of the moments that stuck with me.


These two incidents are all the evidence I need. Dad was a Stones Guy.

Let me explain. While I think it is perfectly possible and reasonable to love both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, nearly all of us can be classifying as either a Beatles person or a Stones person (though I think my friend Ed, a huge fan of both bands, would still self-classify as a Kinks person).

Dad liked the Beatles just fine, I’m sure. But he was a Stones Guy.

I consider myself very lucky: I am married to a Beatles Girl. My brother-in-law Roy is a Stones Guy. My brother-in-law Mike is a Beatles guy. It’s nice to have one of each, though I’m honestly not sure where my brother-in-law Bill would fall.

This is a phenomena that transcends generations. Our son Jimmy is a Stones Guy. Our son Chris is a Beatles Guy. Again, nice to have one of each.

Funny thing about Dad is that, as far as I know, he did not actually own any Rolling Stones records, at least not until I gave him the ’64-’71 compilation, Hot Rocks, for Christmas sometime in the 1990s. I am now the keeper of Mom and Dad’s records and there is not a single Stones album among them.

But, as an avid WMMR listener during the early glory days of that pioneering FM rock station, Dad probably didn’t need to, or even care to, actually own Rolling Stones albums. Clearly the Stones would have been in very heavy rotation.

So, Dad didn’t own the following Rolling Stones albums:

  • Beggar’s Banquet
  • Let It Bleed
  • Sticky Fingers
  • Exile On Main Street

However, it is highly probable that he heard every song from each of these absolutely badass records at least once on WMMR. But who knows? The “Let It Bleed” moment in my bedroom all those years ago certainly seemed like an epiphany for Dad.

I have been listening to these four Stones albums all week, diving deeper than I ever had before. Unlike Dad, I have owned these records for years, but that doesn’t mean I’ve listened to them often. It seems to me that the big hits, as chronicled on Hot Rocks, are so epic, in and of themselves, that it’s easy to take the albums from which those hits emerged, for granted.

But, damn, that’s a huge mistake. Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main Street are all totally necessary albums. While I know that Stones fans will consider this a “D’oh” conviction, I think that very note on each of these albums should be heard by every rock fan. Absolutely necessary records, for damn sure

Listening intently to this quartet of albums in depth, it is obvious that, with all due respect to the earlier and later work of the Rolling Stones, these records represent the core of everything that made the Stones “the world’s greatest rock’n’roll band.” You’ve got Jagger’s swagger, Richards’ rhythmic cool, the seamless fusion of several musical genres, the paradoxically loose-but-tight musicianship by everyone involved. It’s all there, and it’s all classic.

More important to me, these four records seem to embody practically everything — other than bluegrass — that Dad loved about music. Blues, country, rock, and in a song like “Let It Bleed,” it all just comes together so brilliantly. No wonder Dad was so excited.

I would have loved to have spent this evening hanging out with Dad, listening to these records and knocking back a few beers, and maybe even a shot of Jack Daniel’s. But, even though Dad’s not physically here, that’s exactly what I feel like I did. Because Dad was certainly here in spirit and, as much as I love the Beatles, I realized tonight that I’m a Stones Guy too.

Here’s a playlist/mix CD I made tonight that features four songs from each of these four classic Stones albums:

Dad Was a Stones Guy

  1. Brown Sugar
  2. Let It Bleed
  3. Rocks Off
  4. Sympathy for the Devil
  5. Dead Flowers
  6. Gimme Shelter
  7. I Only Want to See His Face
  8. Street Fighting Man
  9. Bitch
  10. Monkey Man
  11. Happy
  12. Stray Cat Blues
  13. You Gotta Move
  14. You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  15. Shine a Light
  16. No Expectations





The Daily Record: “Blackstar”–David Bowie (2016)

In 2016 music, Rich's House of Vinyl on January 12, 2017 at 3:23 am


There is, of course, a real danger in saying that one is going to perform any sort of creative ritual “daily,” but, hell, I live on the edge. I’ll try to post short Daily Record posts here for awhile, beginning with a set of records released in 2016.

Today’s “Daily Record” is David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar. Released just over a year ago, two days before Bowie’s death. I have already written about how Bowie’s death hit me and about Blackstar itself, so I will keep this entry brief (and, in fact, I’ll keep all future Daily Records brief).

I bought Blackstar late in the morning after Bowie’s passing. I’ve listened to it many times since then, so many times, in fact, that I released in late December that it was pretty much the only album released in 2016 that I paid any serious attention to it. I am making up for that now, but for the time being, let’s talk briefly about Blackstar.

Knowing that Bowie was seriously ill during the recording of Blackstar and died just days after its release certainly colors the perception anybody will have when they hear the album, but minus those circumstances, I’d still rank Blackstar among Bowie’s best work. It’s probably among my favorite five Bowie albums, and I’ve heard my share. It is of course, a spooky work. It’s sad. It’s horrifying. But it’s all beautiful, transcendent and, dammit, pretty funny at points. I mean, the chorus of the song I’m listening to right now is “Where the fuck did Monday go?” over and over. And it’s weird and funny and oddly life-affirming knowing that Bowie, in the midst of a serious illness, sat or stood in a recording studio near his home in New York City and sang that line over and over again.

Blackstar isn’t merely “oddly” life-affirming though. It’s gloriously, oddly life-affirming.

So, I’ve listened to a bunch of 2016 albums recently. I like all of them in different ways and if this latest “Daily Record” iteration takes off, I’ll write about them all before I move on to older records. But Blackstar is the king of them all. My favorite record of 2016.


333 Words about Abandoned Luncheonette

In 1970s, 1973, Rich's House of Vinyl on November 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Typically I use a chance operation to determine what albums I profile on this blog, but once in awhile there is a good reason to write about a specific LP on a specific day. Such is the case with Hall & Oates’ Abandoned Luncheonette, released 40 years ago today.

A breakthrough album for Hall & Oates, Abandoned Luncheonette provided the duo with a big hit single, “She’s Gone,” though it wasn’t a hit for the duo until both Lou Rawls and Tavares recorded popular covers of it.

In addition to the musical success Abandoned Luncheonette brought its creators, the LP created a fair amount of notoriety for its cover model, the ruins of the Rosedale Diner, which had been a mainstay in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, where Daryl Hall grew up, for years. By 1973, what was left of the Rosedale sat along Route 724, just up the road from where I now live.  The success of Abandoned Luncheonette led to many pilgrimages by fans to Route 724 until 1983, when the diners remains was burned by a local fire company.

In more recent times, a guy named Matt Simmons fell in love with the Abandoned Luncheonette album and determined that he was going to travel to 724 and learn more about the Rosedale. He did just that, and probably knows more about the Rosedale than just about anyone.

Given our shared interest and my physical proximity to the site where the Rosedale rested for years, it was probably inevitable that Matt and I should become friends. As is often the case, social media helped us meet and facilitated our friendship to the point where we actually met in person back in August. I was happy to show Matt and his family the Colonial Theater here in Phoenixville and I later joined Matt as he visited the Rosedale site and even found me one of the remaining bits of floor tiles from the diner.

Here’s Matt and me that day, listening to Michael Kropp play at the Phoenixville Farmer’s Market:


333 Words About Taj Mahal’s The Real Thing

In 1970s, blues, live albums, record collecting, records, rhythm and blues, Rich's House of Vinyl, soul on October 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm

The essential point of this “Rich’s House of Vinyl” blog, aside from giving me a chance to write about music, is that I pick the records out using a pair of 20-sided dice. This suits my geeky side quite nicely, especially since, not be a Dungeons and Dragons kind of geek, I’ve never really had a context to use such dice and now I do.

The dice allow me to pull stuff out of my large record collection that I’ve actually never listened to. This is a good thing, since I don’t collect records just so they can sit around on a shelf (or, at the moment, on my living room floor) gathering dust. I actually want to listen to the things.

The dice were kind to me in presenting Taj Mahal’s early 1970s live album, The Real Thing. I think this record came my way when a friend passed along a box of great albums that had been passed to him from a friend. I had not gotten a chance to listen to but now I have, and I love it.

While I’ve known of Taj Mahal for years, I’ve never actually heard his music. I’ve also known that Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder were in a band together in the early ’60s, which was a good sign that I’d  like him. I’d always imagined that Taj Mahal was a mostly acoustic blues guitarist and singer, but he’s got much more going on than that. On this album, which was recorded live at the Fillmore East, Taj Mahal’s band plays electric guitar, bass and piano, drums, congas and four tubas. And those tubas rock, lemme tell ya. Taj Mahal himself plays a variety of instruments, including the ever-popular six-holed fife.

The result? A live show, rooted in blues but not afraid to take those blues to some exotic, jazzy places. A show that took place more than 40 years ago, but is introducing me to Taj Mahal today. The real thing, indeed.

Daily Record 2/10/11: Dick Clark, 20 Years of Rock n’ Roll-various artists (1973)

In 1950s, 1960s, compilations, pop, record collecting, records, rock'n'roll on February 10, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I think Grandma French was responsible for bring today’s Daily Record, Dick Clark, 20 Years of Rock n’Roll, into my life. I believe Grandma gave me this two-record compilation for Christmas the year it was released and I’ve had it ever since. That’s how I remember this, but later I’ve seen examples of my memory being not exactly correct, so who knows?

I should make it clear that this is not an album of Dick Clark making rock’n’roll music, but various artists collection of tunes released between 1953 and 1972. Beginning with “Crying in the Chapel” by Orioles and ending with “Nice To Be With You,” by Gallery. Smack dab in the middle, you’ll find “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsmen.

This would be exactly the kind of musical present Grandma would give me. She liked that I enjoyed music but she was concerned about all those glam rockers like Ringo Starr (whose single, “No No Song” was one of the first 45s I bought myself) who might lead me down the path to drugs and whatnot with their provocative song lyrics and platform shoes.

But Dick Clark was a known quantity and Grandma could trust an album that Clark put his stamp of approval on. There would be no songs about cocaine on this collection, although, of course, Congress did investigate that aforementioned Kingsmen song for quite some time.

From the consistent crackle in the grooves of these two albums, I get the impression that 20 Years of Rock’n’Roll was often on my stereo when I was a kid. The way that the flow of songs, particularly on side one, makes a sort of deep, intuitive sense to me, also indicates that I spent a decent chunk of time soaking up the songs of Johnny Cash, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy and more, in just the order, chronological way Clark chose to present them.

But that was me as a kid and that’s me now: I’m constantly absorbing music, both that which has long been familiar to me and that which is brand new to me (like the Philip Glass Meets Blondie mash-up Brian played for me last night. Hypnotic and cool.). I guess the major difference between me now and then is that as a kid, I was taking in, for the first time, much of the history of popular music. That history is mostly known to me now, though there is always much to learn (in music and everywhere else, of course.).

As for this specific compilation, it is by no means definitive. Elvis and the Beatles are not to be found, probably due to licensing issues, more any attempt at historic revisionism on the part of Clark and his minions. There are, in fact, no British Invasion artists represented at all. And a couple of the more “modern” selections, like Melanie “Candles In The Rain” and Gallery’s “Nice To Be With You,” actually seem more date-stamped to me than the 50s and many of the 60s classics on the set.

Of course, these days, I have many of these songs, like Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes,” Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” on fancy digital compilations. But I probably heard many of these songs for the first time on Dick Clark, 20 Years of Rock n’Roll, and this album would still probably be the first place I’d turn when I need to hear Joey Dee’s “Peppermint Twist,” which actually happens more often that you’d think. Or at least, ought to, because “Peppermint Twist” rocks.

Thanks for the education, Grandma!

Daily Record 2/9/11: Jacksonville City Nights-Ryan Adams (2005)

In 2000s, 2005, country, rock on February 10, 2011 at 3:53 am

My friend Jason is a big proponent of well-compiled greatest hits collections, particularly, two-disc anthologies that might take you a little bit off the artist’s most well-known path, but not too far. I’m thinking I could use such a double disc set of Ryan Adams (now that I think of it, I think Jason has pushed for just such a collection as well).

Adams has been around for years releasing album after album. I’ve been reading reviews (often glowing, occasionally not) of these albums for years. I’m interested but have never really taken the plunge. A two-disc anthology of Ryan Adams best tunes from the last decade plus would be welcome.

I do have a couple of his discs, including our Daily Record, the classic country-sounding Jacksonville City Nights. This was the second of three albums Adams released in 2005. Most of the songs have the sound and feel of country radio hits circa anywhere from the mid-’60s through the early-’70s. Even the CD cover art echoes the album sleeves of that period.

Depending on who you talk to, Jacksonville City Nights is either the best or second best of the three CDs he released in ’05 (the third of the albums, 29, gets little love from anyone, but the first, Cold Roses, has its fans). I haven’t heard the other two (hence the need for the compilation), but I like Jacksonville City Nights. In fact, I’d have to say that I like it best when it conforms to its genre exercise mission: when Adams strays into more modern singer/songwriter mode, Jacksonville City Nights seems to drag a bit.

Daily Record 2/4/2011: Costello Music-The Fratellis (2007)

In 2000s, 2007, British bands, Friday music, pop, Rich's House of Vinyl, rock on February 5, 2011 at 1:33 am

I just had a brief moment of existential angst. I was out walking Jolie in the freezing Pennsylvania night. The snow was a foot high all around me and glazed over with a thin sheet of ice that glowed in the moonlight. It was eerie and kind of weird, and I often like eerie and kind of weird, but not tonight. I just wanted to have Jolie do her business so we could get back to the house. It was an all-business/no-pleasure kind of walk.

Anyway, I didn’t completely tumble into the angst thanks to the Daily Record, Costello Music by the Fratellis. This 2007 album proved to be fairly excellent “Friday music.”

I think we can reach a general consensus about what makes good Friday music: something kind of big and dumb and fun, but not so dumb so that the listener’s IQ doesn’t automatically tumble into oblivion. Despite the fact that “Working for the Weekend” is sort of cliché at this point, I think Loverboy is actually a pretty decent Friday music band, but of course there are other great Friday music bands across the spectrum of music.

Randomly generating Friday music can be a dicey proposition. For example, I appreciate Philip Glass (I appreciate Philip Glass. I appreciate Philip Glass. I appreciate Philip Glass.) as much as the next post-post-postmodern guy, but I don’t necessarily want to be listening to the Low Symphony during the Friday commute.

The Fratellis, however, fit the bill nicely. This British band came to our attention, as they did for many people, when their infectious song “Flathead” was soundtrack for one of those flashy Ipod commercials. Donna and I both enjoyed the song and quickly determined that we would enjoy the album as well.

Costello Music is indeed a fun listen, featuring lots of loud, sort of obnoxious rock songs about girls and stuff. I like the whole album, though driving to work this morning, it seemed a little bit longer than it needed to be. I would have liked to have knocked the whole disc out on the drive in, but I only got a little more than halfway through it. This seems to violate some unwritten Friday music rule: Friday albums should be as punchy as can be and should be able to be listened to in a single sitting. Then, if things get carried away and everyone involved is enjoying the Friday album, you can just hit repeat and let it play until you get tired of it.

My point is that brevity is a virtue when it comes to Friday music and if the Fratellis needed to lop some tracks off of Costello Music (though, as I said they’re all enjoyable) to achieve brevity, then they should have bitten the bullet and done that. But this is a minor complaint.

I suppose writing about Friday music should be a study in brevity too, though at 480 words, I’ve clearly blown that. However, I can have the good sense to stop now.

Daily Record 2/1/11: This Year’s Model-Elvis Costello & the Attractions (1978)

In 1970s, 1978, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, new wave, rock on February 1, 2011 at 7:04 pm

This Year’s Model, Elvis Costello’s second album (and his first with the Attractions) is rightly considered to be one of the best albums released in 1978 and probably one of the best for the years surrounding ’78 as well. This Year’s Model fulfilled the promise of Costello’s ’77 debut, My Aim Is True, and was just the kind of spiky, angry, organ-drenched rock’n’roll record that we all needed at the moment that disco was exploding all over the place and progressive rock was feeling bloated and self-indulgent.

In addition to all that, This Year’s Model just rocks, containing one early EC classic after another, including “Pump It Up,”  a song that has now become a part of the classic rock canon that Costello may have been appearing to revolt against back in ’78.

With all that going for it, I have to admit that, within the context of Rich’s House of Vinyl, I’m finding  I don’t have much to say about This Year’s Model.

Make no mistake: I love this record. Love the lyrics. Love the music. Love the squiggly keyboard lines courtesy of Steve Nieve. Love that Costello not only used the word “anesthetize” in the song “Radio Radio,” but that it rolls off his tongue like he sings “anesthetize” in every song he’s ever written.

Love the fact that Elvis got in some trouble playing “Radio Radio” on Saturday Night Live and that the Beastie Boys helped him recreated that moment decades later.

But, even with all this love, I need to admit something: This Year’s Model glided right by me in 1978. I’ve got no memory of hearing anything from this album on the radio at the time (well, maybe “Pump It Up”) and never felt an inkling to go out and buy the record.

Maybe I was too busy listening to two other 1978 albums I’ve covered in this blog so far: Gerry Rafferty’s City to City and Blondie’s Parallel Lines.

Costello did get my attention with the release of his third album, Armed Forces, the following year. But that’s the story of Armed Forces, not This Year’s Model.

One of the great things about music (and any art form, really), though, is that once a work has been released, it’s always there for those of us who missed it the first time around. So I missed This Year’s Model by a few years, but I eventually caught up to it. Then there’s my nephew Mike, who missed the album by virtue of the fact that he was born ten years after its release, but is catching up with Costello’s vast catalog one piece at a time (sometimes on vinyl!).

So really, This Year’s Model can be any year’s model.

Daily Record 1/28/11: Endless Summer-Donna Summer (1994)

In 1970s, 1980s, compilations, disco, greatest hits, pop, rock, soul on January 28, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I’ve never hated disco music. I never thought it sucked.

There may have been times when I tried to play off my enjoyment of disco as “ironic” but the plain fact is I like disco music. I liked it in 1979 and I like it now.

Back in ’78 and ’79, I was the king of rare 7th/8th grade dances at St. Joseph School. It was easy to be the disco king at that age and in that place though, since hardly of the other boys in my class would “fast dance,” even as some of them were working up the courage to slow dance with girls.

I was totally cool with fast dancing and, in my white leisure suit and silk shirt, with my hair parted down the middle, I was well-prepared for hot grade school disco dancing action. So well-prepared, in fact, that I wound up dancing up a storm to Donna Summer’s “Heaven Knows” with one of the chaperone moms.

At the risk of bringing mortification onto my family for generations to come, I’ll simply note that, at the end of this dancing-with-someone-else’s-mom fiasco, the mom and I joined hands and spun wildly around during the climax of “Heaven Knows” until vertigo took hold and we both collapsed in heaps on the floor, dizzy in our disco decadence.

It would be difficult to calculate how many similar late 1970s scenes played themselves out, from Studio 54 down to church halls throughout the country,  to the throb of Donna Summer’s classic disco tunes. She was the Queen of Disco, after all.

In reality, Summer is a talented artist whose work far transcends labels, particularly a label as limited as “disco.” But it is as a dance floor diva that Donna Summer achieved her greatest successes, all of which are nicely chronicled on Endless Summer, a 1994 single-disc compilation of her work from “Love To Love You Baby” through “This Time I Know It’s For Real,” along with two tracks that were new to the compilation.

Even on a greatest hits disc, it’s clear that Donna Summer’s music was way more adventurous than the disco haters would have given her credit for. “I Feel Love” is an electrodance freakout (Brian Eno allegedly told David Bowie that “I Feel Love” was the future of modern music); “MacArthur Park” is a melodramatic cover that probably caused fans of the original version to shake their fists angrily at the dance music gods for allowing such an “abomination”; “The Wanderer” shows off Summer’s rock side; “Love Is In Control (Finger On the Trigger)” features a huge Quincy Jones production extravaganza.

And don’t forget “State of Independence,” a trippy tune written by Jon Anderson (of Yes fame) and Vangelis (of Chariots of Fire fame).

Even when Summer got a little cheesy (her “No More Tears” duet with Barbra Streisand), it’s all in good fun.

And, finally, let’s talk a moment about Summer’s huge hit, “Hot Stuff,” since this is the second time this week that a song with that title has been on one of the Daily Records. The Rolling Stones’ “Hot Stuff,” (from their Black and Blue album, which I covered earlier this week) was a move into reggae-influenced disco territory (or, maybe, disco-influenced reggae territory; it’s hard to tell) for the Stones.

Inversely, Summer’s “Hot Stuff” is a bold move from disco into rock. In fact, I’d love to go to a Rolling Stones concert, in which the Stones perform their song “Hot Stuff” and then segue, medley-like, into Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff.” Mick Jagger could totally pull that off, though such a medley would entail the Stones’ admitting that, when it comes to songs titled “Hot Stuff,” Donna Summer  just brought the hotter stuff.

Daily Record 1/26/11: Parallel Lines-Blondie (1978)

In 1970s, 1978, Blondie, new wave, pop, record collecting, records, Rich's House of Vinyl, rock on January 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Sometimes the facts get in the way of a good story. So what does one do? Go with the facts or the good story?

Such is the case when it comes to my memories of how I first acquired Blondie’s 1978 album, Parallel Lines.

First, some words about Parallel Lines. Blondie’s third album, Parallel Lines was released in September 1978 and was the band’s big breakthrough. It generated two Top 40 hits in the United States, including the #1 smash “Heart of Glass,” and numerous other songs were hit singles throughout the world. Parallel Lines established Blondie as a leading new wavin’, pop rockin’, smash hit single producin’ juggernaut, at least for a few years, after which the band imploded.

Parallel Lines is seriously high on my list of all-time favorite albums; has just about the greatest opening album 1-2-3 punch I can think of (“Hanging On  The telephone,” “One Way Or Another,” “Picture This”); and had an enormous effect on me as a 13/14-year music listener/human being; Blondie lead singer Deborah Harry, wearing that little white dress and a “don’t mess with me” look on the cover of the album, had a surreptitious but undeniable effect on me as a 13/14-year-old boy going through all those “special changes” that start happening around that age (but more on that if some of the other Blondie albums turn up in this Daily Records project).

Bottom line: more than 30 years after its release, I still find Parallel Lines to be an enormously entertaining album. Blondie’s masterwork (and that of producer Mike Chapman) doesn’t sound dated to me at all, but I suppose the older one gets, the less one should trust one’s instincts about whether something sounds dated or not. I suppose to my kids, Parallel Lines probably sounds like a dusty nostalgia trip. After all, for Jimmy, who is now the age I was when the album was released (13), listening to Parallel Lines is akin to the 1978 version of me listening to a record made in 1946. Yikes.

All of this leads to the day I bought Parallel Lines. Here is what I remember, followed by what actually happened:

One day in the spring of 1979, my friends Denise, Tomi and I caught a bus to Granite Run Mall. I’m not sure of the logistics of this, since we all lived in different areas: whether we prearranged to meet on the bus, whether we met at the mall, whether there was parental transportation that I’ve long since forgotten.

In any case, once we were at the mall, it’s a good bet that Chick Fil-A sandwiches and maybe even an Orange Julius were consumed. We stopped at Listening Booth and, while there, I made the bold decision to risk some of my paperboy money on this Parallel Lines album, from which I heard the songs “Heart of Glass” and “One Way or Another” on the radio. This was new, kind of unexpected music for me: while I could grasp the disco-y nature of “Heart of Glass,” there was an edginess to “One Way or Another” that fascinated me, particularly since the tune was sung by this wickedly fierce-looking woman wearing the aforementioned ice-cold stare and little white dress on the album’s cover. I bought the album.

Later, after making my Parallel Lines purchase, Denise, Tomi and I went to Things Remembered, where we all bought engraved I.D. bracelets. 

However, the mostly nondescript diary I kept in 1979 tells a different story and illustrates how I’m beginning to transpose and scramble memories as I get older. Here is my complete diary entry (misspelling intact) from March 24, 1979:

“Really bad bowling. Went to the mall with Deniece and Tomi and got Bootleg and I.D. bracelet.”

So, we see that most of the details are correct, with one crucial error: Parallel Lines is not mentioned, because I didn’t buy it that day. “Bootleg” refers to Aerosmith’s album Live: Bootleg!, which is the record I bought that day.

So if I chose the bad boys from Boston over Blondie on the day of the Things Remembered I.D. bracelet purchase, when did I buy Parallel Lines? Again, I turned to my diary for an entry from July 7, 1979:

“Went to Granite Run Mall with Deneice and Tomi. Got Lisa a Sgt. Pepper shirt and got myself Blondie’s Parallel Lines.”

[Note: the Sgt. Pepper shirt would have been tied into the Frampton/Bee Gees movie, not the actual Beatles album.]

Mystery solved, though I like the version better in which my girl friends and I buy I.D. braclets from Things Remembered on the same day that I bought Parallel Lines.

Finally, I should note that on that day when I bought Parallel Lines, my family was living at my grandmother’s house in Upland. Not long after my eighth grade graduation, my family moved out of the house in which I’d grown up in Aston, but the new house in Boothwyn wasn’t finished yet. We spent the summer of ’79 in transit, first at Grandma’s, then at Uncle Ed and Aunt Mary Jo’s place. I was feeling a little dislocated, but I do remember those first few listens to Parallel Lines at Grandma’s house, thinking how cool the album was and, by extension, how cool I was for listening to an album that was so cool.

Ending grade school and moving from the only neighborhood I’d ever known, I was leaving much of my childhood behind. But the day I bought Parallel Lines, a record unlike any I’d bought before, I found something new and different that I could bring along with me into whatever my new life was going to hold.

Parallel Lines and the adolescent version of me turned out to be a good match.