Saturday Single No. 146

Originally posted August 22, 2009

Having spent two Saturdays this month looking at acquisitions during Julys past, I now turn my attention to Augusts gone by. This morning, we’ll wander from 1970 into the late 1980s, the years when my vinyl collection grew only a little.

In 1969, a few months before I began to spend most of my evenings listening to Top 40 radio, a song came along that sparked my interest in an unlikely choice of musician. Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” got radio play all over and at all times of the day. Cash’s recording of the Shel Silverstein-penned tune went to No. 2 and spurred me to buy – or pester my folks to buy, more likely – Johnny Cash at San Quentin, which only turned out to be one of the great live albums and the first country LP I ever owned.

The next August, it was back to the world of pop and rock. I picked up Best of Bee Gees and the Beatles’ Hey Jude (marketed some places as The Beatles Again.) In August 1971, as I spent my evenings scrubbing and polishing floors with my pal Mike at St. Cloud State, I picked up Stephen Stills and the original version of Jesus Christ Superstar. And I started college in late September that year.

In 1972, August saw me finishing my Beatles collection. And I find this morning that I misread a line in my database when writing about it earlier this month. I did in fact complete the Beatles collection with the purchase of A Hard Day’s Night. And I did buy a Beatles’ record during my trip to Winnipeg with Rick and Gary. But the record I bought north of the border was Beatles VI. No real harm done, I guess. It’s worth noting, though, that having started at the beginning of May 1970 with one Beatles album – Beatles ’65 – I got the seventeen remaining albums by the Fab Four in only a little more than two years.

The next two years, I added no albums to my small collection in August. In 1975, I found Ringo, almost certainly the best album by the former Beatle, and I received as a gift Joe Cocker’s spectacle of a live album, Mad Dogs & Englishmen. We skip a year and go to 1977, when two LPs came my way: I found in pile of radio station rejects at St. Cloud State an LP that offers an interesting performance of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” and then won a copy of the soundtrack to Star Wars by correctly answering – four times – a trivia question about the soundtrack of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The late 1970s and early 1980s sometimes brought lean seasons for record acquisitions; summers were especially slow, and I have no idea why. Maybe because we spent less time indoors listening to music? I don’t know. But it took another seven years, until 1984, for me to add to my collection in August. One evening that month, I saw the time-travel drama Somewhere In Time on television, and the next day I went out and bought John Barry’s soundtrack for the film. That was in Columbia, Missouri; I learned a few years later, oddly enough, that in the book on which the film is based, Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson, a key scene takes place in Columbia. I spent about two-and-a-half years altogether in Columbia, but I fell in love with no pictures of actresses from the late 1800s or early 1900s, and, sadly, no time travel ensued.

Back in Minnesota by August 1985, I received as a gift Bob Dylan’s Empire Burlesque. I was intrigued by the single “Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anyone Seen My Love),” which ­All Music Guide tells me went to No. 19 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

From then, it’s on to 1988, when I picked up sixteen LPs, about half of them in Minot, North Dakota, and half on a summer visit to St. Cloud. The best of the bunch? Maybe Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks or Santana’s self-titled debut. The worst? Well, none of them were really bad; Dylan’s Shot of Love, is spotty, despite the presence of “Every Grain of Sand” and “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar.”

August 1989 found me back in Minnesota, living just north of the Twin Cities. I added twelve LPs to the shelves that month, with another Van Morrison, Beautiful Vision, being the best. The worst? That’s hard to say. Blood, Sweat & Tears’ fourth album, simply titled B, S & T 4, was a little lame. But most folks looking at that month’s list would look askance, I think, at Ray Conniff’s work, and I bought two records by the man with his orchestra and chorus.

One of those Conniff LPs brought back memories of the basement rec room in St. Cloud, with a young whiteray reading comics, maybe, or playing a board game as the mellow music came and went. Ray Conniff’s Invisible Tears was one of the albums on the stereo during those days in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1964, the title track had gone to No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100, on its way to becoming today’s Saturday Single.

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