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Stuck In The Middle With You

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“Trying to make some sense of it all/But I can see that it makes no sense at all/Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor/’Cause I don’t think that I can take anymore/Clowns to the left of me/Jokers to the right/Here I am/stuck in the middle with you.”
“Stuck in the Middle With You” – Stealers Wheel

It’s dark … it’s late … and I’m stuck. Don’t know what to write about. The music is streaming but the words aren’t flowing.
Random thoughts and snippets of a graph fill my brain but nothing really congeals into a concrete idea. Is this the penalty for having the eternal jukebox in your brain stuck on random?

Like any lover of music (and I mean a true lover of music), I’ve got a pretty long play-list – not just what’s popular, not just what’s jammed down your throat on the radio, not just what your friends like.

I mean the type of music-lover that sees the notes as they hear them, the type that floats between Miles Davis and Skinny Puppy, Mozart, Metallica, Mother Love Bone, Motorhead and the Beatles to Green Day. A skip-idee-do-dop over to Thelonious Monk and a crashing double-kick drum back to Slayer.

Ever seen the movie High Fidelity? If not, I highly recommend it. It’s about three losers who run a record shop and boy howdy are they snots about it. One of them owns the shop, the other two just showed up one day and never left. There’s this one scene where a dad comes in looking for a Stevie Wonder record for his daughter and the character played by Jack Black runs him out of the store.

The crew of characters is always having a top-five discussion – top-five breakup songs of all time, top-five opening tracks, top-five this, top-five that. You know you’ve stumbled on to a music lover when they put Massive Attack and Led Zeppelin in the same list. Oh, and another annoying trait about said music lovers – they’re incredible snobs about music, just ask me, I’ll tell you.

Round and round and round he goes, the point he’s making, no one knows – don’t worry, we’re getting there.

So back to High Fidelity and the record store. What an incredible store depicted in the movie – aisles and aisles of vinyl records, CDs, concert posters and of course the column of torn pieces of paper announcing band such-and-such is seeking a new guitarist. I’ve been fortunate in my lifetime to visit a few such places – Amoeba Records in San Francisco, Bleaker Bobs in Los Angeles, and Magnolia Records in Columbus, Ohio to name a few. For music lovers everywhere, these shops are a Mecca of sorts.

OK, hold on, we’re almost there, I promise. Did you know that we are lucky enough to have one such store just down the road in Cheyenne? The place is called Ernie November, its off of Lincoln Way in the same block as the Wrangler, kind of tucked away – you blink you miss it.

Ben, please, you’re killing me – THE POINT ALREADY!

Ernie November is dying. I was there recently talking to owner of the place, it’s down to just him on the staff front and he’s praying for a better year or it might be time to shutter the windows. Now no, obviously Ernie November closing isn’t going to affect the GDP of the nation, they certainly don’t qualify for a bailout. Heck, it would probably have an almost nil affect on the bottom line of Cheyenne if they closed but something else, something bigger, would be lost – that place.

That place where music lovers go to blow the dust off an old record and discover that treasure they’ve been seeking for years. That place where those kids who aren’t athletes, in the “in-crowd” and most likely ridiculed by others go to seek some solace. You may be able to score a game winning touchdown, I know how to map Leadbelly to Iggy and the Stooges to the White Stripes – stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

So again, what does this all mean? Succinctly – the Lady Gaga that’s rocking your iPod came from some band, some band you’ve probably never heard but you can rest assured that someone, in some basement, or laying on their bed did. And that someone passed it along to a like-minded friend who passed it along and passed it along until someone like a Lady Gaga heard it and figured out a way to make it work for the masses.

Our underground will soon enough be your mainstream.

You need us, you need us music geeks and snobs like the earth needs worms – to move things around, to shake it up, to make it fertile again.

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About Mr. B

  • I hear ya’ brother…

  • nice.

  • Fiona

    And for a little pick me up on a grey winter day, may I suggest a little Boney M or Paul Simon’s “Rhythm of the Saints”….just gets our wiggles out.