The Ones I’ve Missed
It began soon after my oldest kid’s thirteen birthday. I’m sitting in my office trying to work or maybe not, while he’s climbing through my CD’s and looking for whatever. At the time he was deep into his sixties “discovery” period which continues to this day and so right there is a problem. I’m always telling him to get his own damn era but no, he’s obsessed with the past. At least lately now his passion is film and I have hardly any of those, so he’s leaving me alone more often than not.
Over the years I’ve weeded out a lot of CD’s and albums I’ll never listen to again and I’m down to maybe a couple of thousand or so. I like to think of myself as someone with an eclectic taste, who enjoys wide variety and has been exposed to much and is open to all sorts of music. The reality is that a dozen years ago I decided that all I want is three chords and the truth, and so I purged. But my background and knowledge runs deep so if I ain’t got it, I’ve probably heard it, seen it or worked it.
So the kid says to me that day “where’s your Beefheart?” to which I grunt and tell him that I remember watching the Captain with his Magic Band on the Mike Douglas Show doing Abba Zaba and that I owned Safe As Milk on vinyl but don’t anymore and he gives me the look. “I meant Trout Mask Replica.”
The scene is repeated over and over again. “Hey…I can’t find any Zombies.” I reply the only song I care about is on volume five of the British Invasion compilation. “What about Odyssey and Oracle?” No…don’t have. “Where is Curved Air? How about any Family? Is this the only Brinsley Schwartz you’ve got? I know you love Fairport but you’re missing Richard and Linda Thompson’s second album. We only have the X box set…I need Los Angeles”. Where is this kid from? Shouldn’t he be playing video games and looking at MySpace pages?
So its last May when he looks up at me incredulously and says “You don’t have one single Velvet Underground CD.” And he’s right….I missed them. Don’t get me wrong, I sure enough listened to plenty of their songs over the years and have a major Warhol fetish but I’ve never owned a single album of theirs. I just didn’t like them much. And I know that they are considered this and that, but just not for me. Being the good parental unit, I let him select a couple titles and I pick them up. He loves them.
I sort of know some of Lou Reed’s work. Back in my early years I worked for a company that distributed RCA Records when Transformer was released, but I was the resident Deadhead so I couldn’t let on that I actually liked that song about the guy in drag. But it was pretty good and I made a mental note to check out his stuff but then his next couple of records came out and I thought they sort of sucked, so I left it behind.
In the little town next to our little town there’s an annual film festival that we like to go to, and last year they featured the Julian Schnabel film “Lou Reed’s Berlin”. The wife likes romantic comedies and the little kid was too tired for the midnight show, so I took my older boy and we expected a sold out theater for this acclaimed presentation. There were eleven of us in a huge theater and for me the anticipation was akin to having a root canal with popcorn.
From the moment the lights went down and we heard Schnabel’s introduction, I found myself being drawn deep into the music of Reed. Hey…this wasn’t any of that hillbilly post-retro folk singer-songwriter alt Americana roots stuff I listen to. This was hardcore New York decadent early seventies junk fueled sex crazed rock and roll by a guy who married Laurie Anderson and I loved it. Not just liked…but loved.
And then almost at the end this guy comes out and sings Lou’s signature song “Candy Says”. I mean it’s Lou’s friggin’ song and this voice from heaven is singing like I’ve never heard a song sung before. It’s Antony from Antony and The Johnsons and I poke my kid and say this is the shit…this is what it’s all about. (Get their new release…awesome voice.) And it segues into “Rock Minuet” before ending with “Sweet Jane” and now I’m hooked. We clap and scream with the other nine people and in two hours I’m home uploading the kid’s Velvet Underground titles.
Now for the past six or seven months I take the cue from whatever he asks me about. I just know I need to listen to it if he’s discovered it and I’ve missed it. He’s been turning me on to just a ton of things and he’s even moved up a couple of decades. Lately he’s got me listening to this guy named Dylan. Ever hear of him?