Saturday Single No. 113

Originally posted February 7, 2009

When the Texas Gal and I are out shopping – as a duo or either of us as a solo act – we are easily diverted from our goals.

For her, the diversion is generally fabric or any of the other materials she uses to make quilts. Frequently, as we head toward home from the mall, she’ll ask if we can stop off at this store or that, and we head in and wander for a while among the bolts of fabric. It’s actually a little bit interesting seeing the wide variety of fabric offered. I occasionally bring a bolt or two to her attention, but so far, I haven’t gotten her interested in doing anything with fabric that shows – in green and yellow glory – John Deere tractors and implements.

It doesn’t always take a special stop, though. The other Saturday, we made a rare visit to the local outlet of Walmart, and as we wandered the aisles, the Texas Gal headed toward the back corner, where craft and sewing supplies live. Knowing she’d be occupied for a good twenty minutes, I waved and headed in my own direction, toward the CDs. A while later, I made my way back toward the fabric section, clutching a box set called simply Big Band, a four-CD package of music recorded between 1935 and 1947 by Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Sammy Kaye and others.

And there – unsurprisingly – is one of my two diversions: music. The other is books. As we wander the aisles of either of our neighborhood discount stores – Shopko, a regional chain, and Target have stores within six blocks of our home – I’m frequently taken off course to browse in one or both of those adjacent areas. It’s always been that way, ever since I was a consumer-in-training. During the mid- to late 1960s, Fandel’s, a department store long gone from downtown St. Cloud, had a separate building in which were located its interior decorating services and its bookstore. Occasionally, during family Friday evenings downtown, I’d be allowed to wander off toward Fandel’s Sixth Avenue on my own, where I’d browse through the books until my folks came and got me.

The same would hold true on visits to Crossroads, the mall on the west end of town (now grown to the point that the original mall – which seemed huge in 1965 – now makes up maybe one quarter of the modern-day mall). I’d go off on my own, heading to Walgreen’s to check out the books and then Woolworth’s to do the same. I’d finish my excursion in the record department at Woolworth’s, looking for inexpensive soundtracks and Al Hirt albums. (I often wonder what rock ’n’ roll rarities I passed by as I flipped through the bargain bins, ignoring pop and rock in those days.)

Over the years, my tastes would change in both music and reading, but the temptation to stray from the planned path never diminishes. I headed out Thursday afternoon to run a few errands, one of them a stop at Shopko to check out flash drives, as the Texas Gal needed one. On my way to the corner of the store that features electronics and the like, I came upon a rack featuring CDs for $4.99: Waylon Jennings, some soundtracks, some Earth, Wind & Fire anthologies, country collections, some hip-hop. I dug on, and in the back of the rack, I found a CD called Superbad! The Soul of the City. It’s one of the Time-Life series of CDs we all see advertised on late-night television.

Wondering how it came to be at Shopko, I pulled it out of the rack and scanned the back, nodding. A pretty good mix of stuff, lots of it from the so-called blaxploitation movies of the early 1970s: Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, the Four Tops, the Temptations, James Brown, Willie Hutch. About half of the tracks were familiar to me, half not.

Well, we all need to accept the role of serendipity in our lives. So the CD came home with me. (As did the flash drive; I did not forget my central task.) And one of the gems I found on the CD comes from Bobby Womack, recently named as one of the 2009 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So here’s “Across 110th Street” from the movie of the same name, today’s Saturday Single.

“Across 110th Street” by Bobby Womack [United Artists 196, 1973]

Location of Fandel’s stand-alone store corrected from Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue on archival posting.

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 113”

  1. The Ghosts Of Downtown « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] Echoes In The Wind Archives « Saturday Single No. 113 […]

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