Rock 'n' Roll 101: Intro to Dad's Music Collection

1968 Fiat 124 Sport

The day Jerry Garcia died, I was working at the New England Aquarium. He had taken up SCUBA diving late in his life, and he had somehow arranged to go diving after hours in the big tank at the Aquarium the next time the Dead came to town, which was supposed to be in about a week. I wasn't sure how I was going to manage it, but I was going to be there.

When I heard the news, I left work and jumped in my car and just started driving. I turned the radio to WBCN to get more news. 'BCN was the great radio station in town while I was growing up. It was one of the first FM rock stations in the country in the late 1960s, and my high school years were arguably their heyday. At the time, they featured a lineup full of iconic DJs, including the great Charles Laquidara. By 1995, the station was owned by CBS and was really nothing like what I had listened to in high school, but Charles was still on, and he would surely be talking about Jerry's death. Jerry and the Dead had been great friends of the station, and Charles had had them play live in the studio as far back as 1970.

Anyway, Charles said maybe two sentences about it, and went back to the generic playlist that was handed to him by the home office in New York. I was horrified, and later I sent him an email and told him so. Much to my surprise, he emailed me right back and told me I was right and that he was embarrassed, and that he of all people should have broken the format, and to hell with the powers that be. We went back and forth a few times, and the short of it was that he invited me to go hang out with him one day during his show. In an act of colossal stupidity I told him I couldn't make it, so he invited me to go on the air with him, to play Mishigas, his demented trivia contest. Anyway, I went on, didn't win [my question was on Hemingway, so I had no shot], but got some great consolation prizes: a year of satellite TV, Patriots-Jets tickets, and a gift certificate for a couple of hundred dollars at Rich's Car Tunes in Watertown.

A couple of months later, I lent my friend Seth some money, and he paid me back by giving me a 1968 Fiat convertible which we drove from San Francisco to Boston. I took it to Rich's and bought a stereo that cost much more than the value of the gift certificate I had won. It sounded unbelievably good, especially that next summer, at night, with the top down. It had a 6 CD changer in it, but in practice it was only a 3 CD changer, because there were 3 discs I kept in it the entire time I had the car. Whenever someone would get in the car for the 1st time, I would play these 3 songs. They all sound great loud:

Track 1: A Run For Life - Dick Dale
Track 2: St. Thomas - Sonny Rollins
Track 3: Monkey Man - The Rolling Stones

Bonus Track: Speaking of WBCN, in 1979, there was some sort of Alternative Energy Expo in Boston, and 'BCN did a remote broadcast from it. I went with my girlfriend at the time, and we saw Oedipus doing his show live, which was pretty cool. We went up and talked to him for a few minutes, and he was really friendly and asked if we had a request. I asked for For Your Love by the Yardbirds.

#21, #17, #1139

Recently, the Boston Globe had their list of Boston's 25 best rock 'n' roll bands of all time. I love that kind of stuff, so I tore the paper open, already working up a righteous anger and composing in my mind a strongly-worded letter to the editor about the fact that they omitted the Remains. How could they?!!? Much to my surprise, not only were the Remains on the list [#17], but there at #21 were my buddies from Guster. Coincidentally, Guster were scheduled to play at the Life Is Good Festival in Canton not long after that, so I was teasing Brian the drummer that I was going to get up close to the stage and start a chant of "we're #21". Anyway, I ran into him at the festival before they went on, at the kids' tent while Dan Zanes was playing, and he remarked that they were neighbors now in Brooklyn, and that he knew that Zanes had been in the Del Fuegos and was curious about them. He had picked up one of their records a while back and wasn't overly impressed, but he knew that he was probably missing something, so I told him I'd post some of their stuff that I liked so he could check it out. Here it is. I'm including a couple of non-Dan Zanes-related bonus tracks too.

Track 1 - I Always Call Her Back [Czech records #71, 1982]. I never had the single. I got this from an excellent Rhino Records Compliation called Mass. Ave.: The Boston Scene (1975-83).

Track 2 - Punchbowl Full of Joy. This one appeared on a fantastic 12" EP called "A Boston Rock Christmas". Maybe I'll post the whole thing around Christmas time. Sonny Columbus on vocals.

Track 3 - Don't Run Wild - This one was on their 2nd record, Boston Mass. It was a big hit, in Boston anyway. WBCN played it all the time.

Track 4 - Shame. Also from their 2nd record. I always liked it.

Track 5 - A cover of Sweet Nothings [originally sung by Brenda Lee], from a show in 1985.

Track 6 - The Remains, the 17th greatest Boston band of all time. Check out this cover of Heart by Petula Clark. I ripped this from a Japanese import pressed on red vinyl that I bought maybe in 1980.

Track 7 - No More by Guster. When they sang this they were still known as Gus. I think this was from MacPhie Pub on Tufts campus. Or maybe in the lounge in Miller Hall.

Track 8 - When I was going through all of my Del Fuegos to find some stuff for Brian, unbelievably, inexplicibly, mixed in with it was...yup - another version of Summertime. #1139. It was actually a pretty good one, a live version by Fairport Convention from 2007.


So, I just got finished listening to 1138 versions of Summertime by George Gershwin, more or less in a row. Everyone from Aaron Neville to Zamfir The Pan Flutist. It was something like 83 hours in total, and it literally took me the entire summer. I listened to it at work, but I was working in Rhode Island on Mondays, so I was only listening to Summertime the four days a week I was in Boston, and I spend a decent amount of time in meetings, and as the summer wore on I needed to take a break from Summertime more and more, so there were times when I wouldn't listen to anything. Let's just say the project was sort of dragging on a bit at the end there. It could have been worse; I went in to it thinking I had 1163 versions, but I had some dupes and mixed in were some different songs with the same name. Anyway, I'm back listening to other music now, which is nice. I promise I'm not going to make this a Snooks Eaglin blog [not that that'd be a bad thing], but I put this on in my car and the intro literally made me laugh out loud, which I hardly ever do when I'm by myself. Then I turned it up real loud. It's a cover of It's Your Thing by the Isley Brothers, from June 1, 1989. It may not even be the best version I have of it by Snooks, but it's the most powerful.

Yes indeed.

Because the world needs another music blog

My wife has been telling me that I should start a music blog, mostly as a way of exposing our kids to a variety of music. We'll see how it goes. Anyway, I'm going to start off with some Eddie Bo. It just seems like I should. Here is a track from an appearance in the WWOZ studio on October 23, 2002 with Snooks Eaglin, a smoking version of his 1961 hit Check Mr. Popeye.