Storytime

You are currently browsing the archive for the Storytime category.

In record stores around the world, today is International Clash Day, at least according to the fans behind this website. Here at Hymies we’re more than happy to listen to the Clash a little more than usual and plan to do exactly that today.

Incidentally, Mick Jones visited Hymies Records one summer day about eight years ago. He was just as you’d expect him to be — cheerful, friendly and gracious. And while we said “Mick Jones doesn’t pay for his records here,” he insisted.

A while back we posted an excerpt from Keith Richards’ autobiography because we saw something familiar in his portrayal of the blues aficionados of 60s London. Here, from a more recent musical autobiography, is a less caustic characterization of record collecting, and how it can provide inspiration to a young would-be.

Jeff Tweedy describes the Clash as a “gateway drug” in his endearing new memoir. He discovered them before he ever heard them, reading reviews in Rolling Stone and Cream while his mother shopped. “I will say that today, reviews aren’t quite the same as they were back in the early ages of rock journalism,” he writes in Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). “Reviews back then devoted way more ink to trying to describe what music sounded like. That was their main purpose. It’s why people read them, because it was the only way to decide if you wanted to spend your money on a particular record. There were no streaming services where you could hear any song ever created practically for free. In the late seventies/early eighties, you judged an album by its cover art, word of mouth from your friends, or if you were a nine-year-old without a lot of musically adventurous peers, you based your record buying decisions on what you read in rock magazines while your mother was buying groceries.”

Tweedy praises Lester Bangs’ 1977 essay on the Clash (“Six Days on the Road to the Promised Land”) with such passion that we imagine his eyes were as watery as our own the first time we heard “Fatal Wound.” But earlier he admits when he first saw the Clash in Rolling Stone, “there was no name recognition” because bands like them were not played on the radio in his hometown of Belleville, Illinois. “The only thing that registered was how incredible they looked.” He quotes Tom Carson’s 1980 review of London Calling: “[The album] sonds like a series of insistent messages sent to the scattered armies of the night, proffering warnings and comfort, good cheer and exhortations to keep moving.”

Few other bands have inspired people in the way the Clash did, and we think Tweedy is right that no other band sparked better writing. He goes on to lament that as a ten-year-old in southern Illinois, he’d be lucky to even find one of their records. “Punk rock was an exotic event happening somewhere else in the world. It was like reading about a civil war or a revolution somewhere.”

And then he shares this endearing story that anyone who grew up trying to sneak records into their parents’ suburban rambler can identify with.

I eventually found the album, in a Target of all places. I was there with my mom — as with her grocery outings, I was a constant companion — and I’d flip through records while she did her shopping. They had a copy of London Calling with a big sticker on the front that read PARENTAL ADVISORY: EXPLICIT CONTENT, STRONG LANGUAGE, or something to that effect. This was before Tipper Gore and the PMRC, so I don’t know if it was the label or the store that put it on there. Either way, I had to get it off. In reality, my mom probably would have bought me a record with an EXPLICIT CONTENT warning on the front, but I wasn’t going to push my luck.

I tried scratching off the sticker with my fingernail. It didn’t go so well. I only got about a third of it off. And then we had to leave. So I hid the record in a different section and hoped it would be there the next time we came back.

We returned two weeks later and London Calling was still there. I went to work on it, holding it under my arm and casually peeling off tiny pieces with my thumbnail while I flipped through records, real casual-like. This time I got another third of it off before we had to go. Those stickers were surprisingly resilient.

A month or two passed before we returned. I was convinced my copy of London Calling would be gone, but it was still where I left it, behind the card divider for Z. This time I finally got all of the sticker off. I took the record up to my mom and asked her, as nonchalantly as I could manage, “Hey, can I please get this.”

She shrugged. “Sure, fine.” Without even a glance.

Of course, some time later mom overheard “Death or Glory” coming from ten-year-old Tweedy’s room and the line “He who fucks nuns will later join the church” catches her ear.

“Are you trying to kill me, Jeff?”

I had no idea how to respond, I had no idea what she was talking about. Eventually she was forced to repeat the lyric she had overhead. In an angry whisper she repeated the offending line. To which I replied, “Oh my god, I had no idea that’s what they were saying! What does that even mean?” And that was that. She waved me back to my room. I wasn’t lying, either, I still don’t know what it means.

We highly recommend you take a look at Jeff Tweedy’s book, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). And that you take out your copy of London Calling, whether or not it has a sticker or just thumb-marks like his, and play it loud.

We are open from 12-4pm on Christmas Eve

 

A few fun renditions of the classic poem. First a reading by Louis Armstrong (famously his last recording), followed by Wynton Marsalis’ interpretation from Crescent City Christmas Card. The last two are performed by Ed ‘Kookie’ Byrnes and Sesame Street‘s Norman Calloway.

Lenny Bruce is best known for his blue material, but “The Djinni in the Candy Store” is a beautiful bit (mostly) suitable for listeners of all ages. The Common Sense Media organization would probably knock down its star rating for Bruce’s joke about “income property” and make some remark about its ethnic stereotypes, but “The Djinni” is mild compared to most of Bruce’s material.

the real lenny bruceFrom time to time we think of Bruce’s Djinni, when tackling a big project in our own store. The whole bit, first recorded by the comedian in 1958, is just an elaborate set-up for a groaner of a line, but as often happens in Lenny Bruce’s best material the Djinni becomes a memorable character. The only one who makes us laugh more is poor Cardinal Spellman, who must explain the ways of the Church to Christ and Moses when the return to Earth in a later routine.

 

In a seventh season episode of The X Files, the supernatural monster discovered by Agents Mulder and Scully is revealed to be a djinni who has spent millennia a prisoner of her powers. With each new master she watches tragedy unfold as the wishes become nightmares, until she receives her freedom when Agent Mulder wishes for it.

Lenny Bruce’s Djinni seems to enjoy his work, although he describes his bottle as “a glass prison.” He grant’s Sol’s second wish without using his magical powers, and we imagine he wanted to run the candy store. It recalls Yakov Bok, the eponymous hero of Bernard Malamud’s The Fixer, a prisoner who “begged for something to do. His hands ached of emptiness.” Yes, the Djinni seems to take pleasure of the minutia of running the small shop, bringing in the milk and the rolls and so on.

Twice, when doubted, the Djinni is indignant: “I am the Djinni, I can do anything!” He is nothing like the sneaky, manipulative djinni in The Thief of Baghdad, who seems to have inspired Bruce’s hilarious voice. The only thing we don’t like about “The Djinni in the Candy Store” is its brevity. We wish he’d had a few more adventures, perhaps in other settings from Bruce’s albums. Perhaps he could have visited Lima, Ohio or Enchanting Transylvania. Or the Djinni could have helped educate people about gonorrhea and raised funds for the Brother Matthias leper colony in Guiana. After all, he is the Djinni and he can do anything.

We’ll be closed today, but we’ll be open earlier than usual tomorrow at 9am. Yes, we have a big selection of the limited black Friday release. Also we’ll have some delicious pizza and brownies from our friends at Moon Palace’s Geek Love Cafe. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

And now, as is our tradition, here is Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.”

alices restaurant

Our pal Craig is always bringing in odd finds from his thrift store trips, and he recently found this awesome tape of a 1988 radio documentary about Radio First Termer, a pirate station briefly broadcast in Vietnam.

vietnam radio first termerRadio First Termer broadcast just over sixty hours, for three weeks in January 1971. Its host, Dave Rabbit, is now known to have been US Air Force Sargent Clyde David DeLay. You can hear one of the only surviving recordings of the original broadcasts here.

The story of Peter Parker, the amazing Spider-Man, from an early 70s LP. The narrator is actor Morgan Freeman, then a regular performer on TV’s Electric Company (appearing as Easy Reader, Vincent the Vegetable Vampire and DJ Mel Mounds). Many of Marvel’s comic book characters appeared on LPs, including the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk.

Peter Parker was one of Stan Lee’s most famous creations. Like other Marvel heroes, he became a reluctant superhero, and he often faced everyday problems. Lee passed away yesterday at the age of ninety-five, just over a year after he lost his beloved wife.

Lee left behind an extraordinary legacy. Obituaries rightfully describe him as the architect of the modern comic book. In recent years as his characters appeared in blockbuster films, Lee could be counted on to make a cameo. His trademark tinted glasses and white mustache will be missed by comic book fans around the world.

In his own way Don Gillis brought the classical repertoire to millions of Americans. He was the producer for the NBC Symphony Orchestra during the long tenure of Arturo Toscanini, helping to broadcast hundreds of symphonic and operatic performances on radio and television (today you can buy an enormous, 85-disc box set of the complete recordings of Toscanini on RCA/Victor Records which including many with the NBC Symphony Orchestra).

After Toscanini retired in 1954 Gillis helped create the Symphony of the Air, which continued to broadcast orchestral music under the direction of Leopold Stokowski. Gillis was also an active composer when not busy with the office work of managing the Orchestra — He wrote ten symhonies (including the light-hearted Symphony No. 5 1/2 “A Symphony for Fun”), several concertos and quartets, and tone poems such as a celebration of the town where he grew up, Fort Worth, Texas (Portrait of a Frontier Town).

The Man Who Invented Music was written by Don Gillis for the U.S. Steel NBC Summer Symphony Series in 1949. It was debuted by Antal Dorati that August. Gillis conducted this recording himself, and it was narrated by Jack Kilty, a minor television star on, you guessed it, NBC.

the man who invented msic

« Older entries

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.