GETTING MORE TALE #814: Freestylin’ 4
I’ve had a lot on my mind. Thinking about the past, thinking about the future.
Every now and then, I’ll search for old acquaintances online. Co-workers, customers, friends…many of them have not emerged in the new online world of social media. At least not yet. I continue searching. Looking for a guy I used to work with, a coincidence of search terms led me instead to the obituary of an old customer.
I recognized his face immediately as that of “Surly Brad”, one of the very first customers I had when I managed my own Record Store location in 1996. Brad passed away in 2011, but he wasn’t really very surly. Is there a male equivalent of “resting bitch face”? Brad looked grouchy but he could also pull a wide smile. He was short and to the point, but eventually we got to know each other a little bit better. Like many music collectors, he was picky about what he bought. He could hear defects on a CD that I couldn’t. I haven’t thought about Brad in years, but I don’t have any negative thoughts of him. Just sadness. Brad died age 47, the same age I am right now.
Rest in peace Brad. I’m sorry we used to call you Surly.
Onto other trains of thought, I’m currently deep in the midst of my usual Seasonal Affective Disorder. Long before I knew what it was or that it existed, I experienced it. Ever since I was a kid. The winters were a long, sad and lonely time. The summers were much happier and more vibrant. I thought for many years I just “hated winter”. I do hate winter; don’t get me wrong, but there was more to it. In the winter of 1998 I was explaining to a friend that I was in my “big blue funk”, a long period of (what I now call) depression. The friend was taken aback because I was speaking of these things as if everybody experienced them. “That’s not normal,” they said. “Sure it is,” I retorted.
I’ve learned to deal with my big blue funks a lot better these days, though I still need to seek help. One thing I do to try to stave off the blues is to give myself something to look forward to every day. This can be anything from having some special food that I enjoy, to buying some new music, to watching my favourite shows. I have to make some time to just enjoy myself a little bit every day.
Of course, buying music costs money and when you’re a collector it can get expensive! When you can’t settle for anything less than “all the tracks”, you can expect to spend money. Of course this is connected to another mental illness, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I’ve had this forever too. As a kid, I would try to collect complete sub-teams of GI Joes and Transformers. I’d also collect music, but that was a lot more difficult in the 1980s.
The first group I ever decided I wanted a “complete” collection of was Quiet Riot. I thought it would be easy. I assumed they only had two albums. How wrong I was. There were no Wikipedia articles to refer to. Eventually I learned about their early Japanese-only albums. It took me about 15 years, pre-internet, to get copies for myself.
As I grew to like more and more bands, I wanted more and more “complete” collections. Magazines like Hit Parader would run ads for mail order record stores. They would list stuff regularly that I never heard of nor saw in stores. All in US dollars of course. Plus shipping! Stuff like:
ALICE COOPER – THE BEAST OF
ALICE COOPER – DADA
ALICE COOPER – PRETTIES FOR YOU
JUDAS PRIEST – STAINED CLASS
These were not albums you could find in your local Zellers’ tape section. I had never seen or even heard of Stained Class.
Then I would browse down to the singles and start crying when I saw things listed like:
AEROSMITH – DUDE LOOKS LIKE A LADY / ONCE IS ENOUGH
BON JOVI – LIVIN ON A PRAYER / EDGE OF A BROKEN HEART +1
EUROPE – THE FINAL COUNTDOWN / ON BROKEN WINGS
Like a cruel tease, I became aware that some of these things really existed, but on a teenage allowance, had no way to acquire them. Or even hear what they sounded like. I was grateful that bands like Kiss never seemed to put our exclusive non-album songs as B-sides. Not knowing any better, I thought that was very democratic of them: everybody had access to every Kiss song – there were no exclusives only for those who could pay for them.
Boy, did I read those Kiss cards wrong!
Many of these tracks and albums never showed up in my collection until the internet age. But now, with access to even more information, the want list continues to grow. It’s an expensive hobby.
Whitesnake was one of those bands that had many albums prior to the ones I knew about. The winter of 87/88 educated me otherwise. Meanwhile I had just acquired Slide It In. I can picture myself shovelling the snow in the dark of the morning listening to that warbling tape. Geffen didn’t put out the best quality cassettes in the 80s. My copy of Slide It In ran so slow that it was almost unlistenable. I would try to fast forward and rewind the tape to loosen it up a bit. Nothing really helped and I never heard the album properly until I got a CD copy. But Slide It In is one of those albums I associate with winter, shovelling snow and all of it.
I’ll make it through this winter just like all the others. But I can’t wait for summer. That’s when I really feel alive again.