July 6, 2014
Today being the first Sunday of the month, it’s record swap meet day at the Pasadena City College, but alas, I can’t go, due to my daily job of writing a journal entry everyday this year (2014). I could have cheated by writing one last night, and posting it early in the morning, but that would be not fair to me or to my readers. The truth is I’m pretty much defined by not only by my everyday writing here, but also my vast collection of books and records. In fact, when I die, I want to make my collection to be a part of a museum - which now, I think it should be the “Museum of Tosh.” This of course will be organized after my death, which in all honesty, is probably around the corner. Nevertheless it never is too early to plan one’s estate and how it should benefit the general public, or at the very least a definite percentage of that public.
If you put a money value to my collection, it will not be significant, but what is important is that it is very much a self-portrait. In fact, I would argue that compared to a photograph of me, or a “selfie,” my collection totally exposes my concerns, my loves, my passion, and in other words, the total world that is “me” and only “me.” Therefore if I was going to leave anything on this planet after my spirit leaves the earth, it should be my book and record collection. Not to be played or read really, but more to the fact that one can enter my house and look at the bookshelves and see how my albums are stacked in various parts of the house. What I have is not really rare in the sense of recording being in its original pressing, but more of the ‘taste’ factor in having such a record in my collection. Also bear in mind the fact that I have only albums that have great graphics. One thing I can’t stand is an album that looks bad in my collection. The cover can be torn up, the recording scratched up, but it needs to be a really cool looking album cover at the very least.
I think I have around 1,000 albums, which is not a lot, but the art of my record collection is keeping the inventory low, and the quality high. Records that were made in the early or mid-60s is a significant interest for me. I only obtain albums that are mono, because I feel the artists that time only listened to the mono mix. That was the format, and stereo was just for Hi-Fi goons. When I play one of my mono albums, I imagine the artist hearing that record with me. I actually transport myself to a definite time and place, with that musician hearing this music for the first time.
I have this obsession with The Shadows’ first bass player, Jet Harris. You need to understand that music is not only for the ears, but also the eyes, and therefore it is important for me that the artist is either good looking, or at the very least, interesting appearance. Jet is unique to me because he is sort of a lead bass player, and most important of all, he looked incredible. I collect Shadows albums, but only if Jet was in the line-up. Also he must be on the album cover as well. In all honesty, The Shadows made great recordings throughout their long career, but the ones that are the most interesting, of course, are the early years with Jet Harris. For me it’s the matching suits, the dance steps, and the spare sound of their instruments that makes it the classic Shadows world. Also note, Jet Harris had blonde hair, and the rest of the band had dark hair. For a band which had such a strong uniformed look, it’s amazing that they allowed Jet to keep his blonde hair in this band. I also feel the same way with Brian Jones in The Rolling Stones. The fact that his hair was blonde, compared to the rest of the band, made Brian stand out. It is ironic that when Jet and Brian left their bands, they were replaced by musicians who had dark hair.
With respect to the Pasadena Record Swap Meet, the two most interesting albums I purchased there, are now my most favorite recordings. The first album I bought there was Liberace’s “Liberace At Home” that came out in 1956 and on the Columbia record label. It’s a fascinating album because it is just Liberace and his piano, and I don’t know for sure if he recorded the album in his house, but it is a very intimate recording and warm sounding. Also the album is kind of a dark pit in Liberace’s soul. Songs like “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” and “Solitude” are almost overwhelming in its ability to place the listener in a blue funk of despair, yet we need the poison to appreciate the beauty in life. Without the darkness, there would be no light.
The second album of interest is “A Picnic Cantata, Sonata for Two Pianos” by piano players Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale. The interesting part of this album is side one, which “A Picnic Cantata” composed by Paul Bowles, with lyrics by the poet James Schuyler. The album came out on Columbia Records in 1954, but only released in Canada for some odd reason. I know very little of Bowles music, but he is one of my favorite prose writers, and I love Schuyler’s poetry. So this purchase was a no-brainer for me, and I have to say it’s an incredible piece of music. Lyrically it is about a group of women who have decided to go on a picnic, and that is basically it. The fact that the narrative is like a straight line from beginning to end, is superb to me. No highs and no lows. Just one consistent hum with beautiful music by Bowles sang for three operatic singers. Both albums are perfection and the fact that I bought two such classy recordings at an indoor parking lot in Pasadena makes it even more important to me
Although once I’m gone (really gone) I don’t think I’ll miss the lack of attention, but now that I’m living (at this time) it’s important that I get notice and attention. Therefore the thought of the museum is extremely important to me. Afterwards, probably wouldn’t be an issue.