Saturday Single No. 123

Originally posted April 11, 2009

Frequently, as I cast about for an idea here, I’ve looked at the dates on which songs were recorded to find something to offer. That’s worked moderately well, at least from this side: It’s been fun. In general, I think it’s worked well from your side, that is, from the side of the audience. The songs so selected seem to have been downloaded at about the same rate as have others.

(It’s worth noting that one of the most popular sound files ever offered here is Ray Conniff’s ghastly 1974 version of Ringo Starr’s “Photograph,” posted here a week ago Tuesday. On the other hand, the Bobby Keys’ solo album I offered a while before that was also popular. I can only generalize that those of you who stop by here simply like music – generally well-planned and well-played music, yes, but you’re not above stopping and taking a look at the horrible outcomes of an occasional train wreck.)

Anyway, what I decided to do this week was look at April in a different manner, not as the time during which songs were recorded but as the time during which I purchased music. What have all the Aprils brought into the collection, both vinyl and CD? This will take us more than one Saturday, I think, and we’ll first look at the time from my college years through 1989, with the later portion of that span being the time when vinyl madness had just lodged in my system. So let’s start thirty-seven years ago:

In April of 1972, I bought two albums, both of them still favorites of mine: Joe Cocker! and the Rolling Stones’ ‘Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out’. Were I to choose a song from either of those, we’d listen to Cocker’s “Darling Be Home Soon” or the Stones’ “Love In Vain.” But we’ve been there before.

I was not a committed vinyl-buyer in those days. My budget, the availability of music I liked on the radio, my year spent in Denmark – all of those combined to keep me from buying a lot of records. The next April during which I bought a record was 1977, when I picked up Bill Conti’s soundtrack to Rocky. Entering the workforce that autumn meant that I was no longer on a student budget, but my rate of purchase – at least in April – did not increase. I bought the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Maynard Ferguson’s Conquistador in April 1978.

A classical collection called Rhapsody! came my way in 1981, and 1982 brought Dan Fogelberg’s The Innocent Age. In 1983, with graduate school on the horizon, I found copies at a flea market of the Bee Gees Main Course and the Allmans’ Enlightened Rogues.

In the summer of 1987, I moved to Minot, North Dakota, and slowly began to collect music again. Then came April of 1988, one of the worst months of my life: Carefully constructed plans collapsed like . . . well, I don’t have an apt enough simile. Suffice it to say that the bits and pieces of the life I’d planned littered the floor everywhere I lived for a few years. One of my responses to that crash was to buy music, lots of it. In April 1988, I picked up The Other Side of Life by the Moody Blues, Never Die Young by James Taylor, Songwriter by Justin Hayward, Past, Present and Future by Al Stewart and Gordon Lightfoot’s East of Midnight.

The retail buying and crate digging began. At the beginning of April 1988, I had about two-hundred and fifty LPs. As April 1989 ended, I had more than five-hundred and sixty of them, more than doubling my collection. What did I add to the shelves in April of 1989?

There was Blind Faith, Boston’s self-titled debut, a hits collection by the Everly Brothers, Dead Set by the Grateful Dead, Santana’s Abraxas, the Stones’ Let It Bleed, Traffic’s The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys and Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, all purchased on April 1. And later in the month, I added two LPs by the previously mentioned Dan Fogelberg – High Country Snows and Exiles – as well as another Al Stewart album, Russians & Americans, and Mott the Hoople’s All the Young Dudes.

I suppose I was buying and listening to music so I wouldn’t have to think about what rotten shape my life was in. It could have been far worse: I could have been drinking. As it was, my beverage of choice at the time was coffee; I doubt that I had more than twenty beers during the entire two years I lived in Minot. My intoxicant, it seems, was vinyl. And the April servings, looking at the list this morning, were pretty good.

So here’s a song that’s as good a metaphor as any for the place I was in during April of 1989, today’s Saturday Single:

“Can’t Find My Way Home” by Blind Faith from Blind Faith [1969]



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