Thursday, November 20, 2014

PEACHES

The wife and I had just returned from an evening of taking her to the walk in clinic at the hospital for a terrible illness she has been fighting for almost two weeks now.  Turns out it is bronchitis and she is starting to feel better I think.  They had given her a breathing treatment at the hospital and after dropping her off at the house I had gone out to pick up her newly prescribed meds at the pharmacy.  It was kind of late in the evening when I finally was able to sit and relax unwinding from the day.

The television was on because the WE network shows Law and Order reruns all night long and I am truly addicted to that show.  I simply love it.  I am to the point now that when I watch an episode of any of the various Law and Order originals or spin offs, I talk the characters through the plot.  For example last night, when in the court room, Hang em high McCoy, as Kevin Smith refers him as, was about to push the guilty party over the edge on cross examination.  The defendant had a machete in his hand and McCoy was trying to get him to show how he had held it when cutting his wife into pieces.  The guy was about to break and I knew that Jack had to be careful, because at any moment the man would lose it and stand up raising the machete in his hands and I didn't want McCoy to be too close.  So during the "Jack Attack" as I have come to call it in every episode, I would tell McCoy "Don't turn your back..... back off a little... he is going to lose it ..." and so forth.  You have no idea how many times I have saved Jack from getting in trouble with the judge or other lawyers or how many times that Jack and I would agree that when Shiff says "Make a deal ... move on" that we could get this conviction done without the deal.

After the "Jack Attack" of that episode and before the next episode started, a commercial came on.  I am not sure what the product was that the commercial was pushing but I did notice the song the ad was using.  It was a cover of an old Robert Palmer song called "Addicted To Love".   When Palmer released the song off of his "Riptide" album in 1985 it shot up the charts so fast that it seemed like it was closing in on the number one spot before it even hit the airwaves.  It was upbeat, and it rocked.  The lyrics were catching as well and the song was an instant classic.  The video he released with the song (it was in the old MTV days when MTV was REALLY Music Television) became an instant classic as well.  It featured emotionless women in black mini dresses pretending to be his back up band while he rocked the song out.  I encourage you to check it as it is one of the true classics of the MTV generation.  ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcATvu5f9vE )  .

What caught my attention in the commercial is that it was a complete opposite version of the song that Palmer did.  It had a female vocal singing with an airy vocal and was being played at a deliberately slow and steady beat.  I listened to it for a a bit and told the wife that I wasn't sure if I approved of that version or not.  I have this thing that there are some songs that should never be covered by anyone because the original was about as good as it would ever get.  I hold this theory on all Beatles songs, except a few of the Ringo tunes, and a lot of the Rolling Stones songs.  As far as I am concerned, once Frank Sinatra has recorded a song, it is hands off for the rest of history.  "Addicted To Love" falls into that category as well as a couple of other Robert Palmer tunes.

Barb asked me why I wasn't sure and so I told her that the Robert Palmer version was, well, it was a classic, and I don't think this stacks up to the bar that Palmer set with his recording of it.  Barb thought for a bit and then asked me What Robert Palmer had died of.  Barb and I both liked Palmer a lot when we were younger and the day that the news broke that he had died and been kind of branded into our collective memory.  I did a little googling on Palmer to refresh my memory and it was sad indeed.  I remember thinking when he died that he was young, another of those artists who were just too young to leave the world when they had so much more to offer.  Palmer had died in France of a heart attack in 2003 at the young age of 54.  His heart attack wasn't brought about by hard partying and drugs, he was pretty much on top of things in his life.  He gave the world of music so much more than we realized at the time.  He would record anything from reggae to the blues, to pop and throw in some good rock and roll to big band covers, truth was you never knew what Palmer would come out with next but you knew it would be good.  He was extremely talented and did leave this earth far too soon.  I thought about that song for a bit and the original version began to play in my head as I headed for bed.  Seems odd, but even though I have some Robert Palmer recordings on my MP3 player, I didn't go to sleep listening to Palmer last night, choosing to listen to some Boz Scaggs instead.

It was when I finally settled at my desk after an early morning meeting on a new product that I decided to revisit some of my Robert Palmer music while I worked.  As I listened to those tunes I remembered a store I use to frequent on a regular basis.  The store would have these huge paintings of the covers of the current albums at the time mounted on the outside of the store.  These paintings were, oh I am guessing between 6 ft square and 8 ft square. They would have five or six album covers depicted on the outside of the store and would put up new ones about every two months or so.  One of the album covers that I distinctly remember was one of Robert Palmer's albums.  I can still see that handsome face and soft smile that Robert Palmer always seemed to carry with him.  As I thought of that album cover of Palmer's on displayed, I remembered other album covers that the store had mounted on display over the years.  I use to gaze at those things in the parking lot as I walked into the store.  They were wonderful and gave a person an idea of how important of a music store this really was.

It was the mid-seventies to mid-eighties and so it was the big hay day of the huge shopping malls.  It seemed that every mall had at least one record store, Musicland, if not two or three record stores.  Now, you have to understand the fascination I have with music.  Actually music and books.  If I went to the mall you would no doubt find me in a bookstore ore a record store.  These two things fascinated me and my mind would soak in all that it could.  I could easily spend between an hour to two hours in either of these places.  I would go to a book store and just walk up and down the aisles look at the binding of the books and reading the titles of them.  Every once in a while I would pull a book out and open it and read a little before continuing with my stroll among the written word.  Chances are I knew I wasn't going to buy a book, but I just loved looking at them, the different topics and titles and make a mental note of a book that I would buy in the future.  It was the same way with record stores only worse. 

Musicland was what I guess you could consider a fairly large record store in the days when the small record shops were slowly disappearing.  I would walk into that store and just start at the first rack that I came to and start thumbing through the records.  Seldom were there records that I hadn't look at hundreds of times before but I looked at them again, one after another after another.  The old LP 12 inch records were special.  The jackets that housed that precious vinyl was a work of art on each of them.  In essence, the jackets were as much of the over all product as the groves that contained the music.  I learned what songs were on what album.  I learned the producers of each album and the track order of the songs on each side of the album. I knew what year they were released, what label they were on, the length of each song and who wrote the songs contained within.  Even after absorbing all of that knowledge, I would still walk into Musicland and thumb through the same albums, never tiring of the magic that they held for me.  When I went to Peaches, you had might as well write my whole day off though.

If Musicland was a fairly large record store, then Peaches was a mammoth record store.  It was the Sam's Club of record stores.  Imagine going to do a little shopping at a Walgreen's versus doing a little shopping at a Target.  There is no way I can describe the magic of Peaches.  It was in Kansas, but that was okay with me.  Peaches could be anywhere they wanted to be and I would go.  If I remember right it was on the corner of 75th and Metcalf.  That is quite a ways from where I live so I didn't get there as often as I would have liked but once there, I was there to make the time worthwhile.  It would take literally most of a Saturday from the time I stepped foot in that store until the time I left, and I usually left with something new in tow.

Peaches was large enough and dedicated to the music enough that there were albums in those racks that you would not see anywhere else in the city.  Many times I would come across an album that I didn't know existed from groups that I thought I knew their discography fairly well.  Peaces was the one place that you could go and find recordings from someone you never knew existed.  It was where I was introduced to the fabulous blues talent of John Mayall and the various bands that he fronted.  It was where I bought my first Willie Nelson album and where I discovered a little band who called themselves the Electric Light Orchestra.  The inventory of Peaches was so varied and so new that I dare not miss going through any of the racks looking at every single album that was there.  Going into that store sent excitement coursing through my veins and, on occasion, would make me dizzy from all of the new groups and records that I was discovering.  It truly was like being on a big game hunt, looking for just the right game to spear and take home with pride.

I didn't realize what a big part of my life a store could be until I started thinking about Peaches this morning.  It was so special, so magical.  Peaches was like a museum of sorts with the new music of the day sitting along side albums of a by gone era. Peaches was a temple dedicated to the art of music.

In this day and age of downloading music in digital format, i am restricted to just browsing through Amazon.com looking at pictures of albums.  Not quite the same as flipping through thousands of records, holding them in your hands, reading all the information on the back that was in tiny print that I probably wouldn't be able to read these days anyway.

I loved the book stores and the record stores.  Deep down inside me, I really miss them.