Saturday, November 12, 2011

Record Party!

My friend/Odd Couples stage manager Thor came over last night for an oft-delayed record party.  Holding a record party is simple, you just get some records and play them and maybe have some food and talk about whatever comes to mind. We talked about our high school music teacher Mrs. Sobieski, apartment hunting, tattoos we'll never get but like to joke about, really, just random stuff.

One of the really cool things about record parties is that because the record sleeves are so BIG, you notice the names of the musicians who played on them and can draw neat parallels between the session musicians.  For instance, last night I noticed that Rick Marotta played drums on both Steely Dan's The Royal Scam and Warren Zevon's Excitable Boy.  Neat, huh?  And sure, you can look that up on the internet, but without it right in front of you, would you?

We got through Katy Lied, The Queen is Dead, Rockabilly Classics and the first disc of Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King.  We chatted.  We drank pink lemonade.

And then Thor put on Justin Towne Earle's Midnight at the Movies and the game changed.

When I was finishing the first season Justified, starting the currently in-between-titled novel I'm writing now (not for NaNoWriMo) and planning for my two-week trip to Oklahoma, I became very interested in Kentucky.  I rented Harlan County USA and watched it the instant it came in the mail.  What really struck me about it was all the singing.  They were out on the picketline, singing union songs from the early part of the century.  One woman wrote a song to teach everyone.  Not in a "I'm going to go to Nashville and record an album" kind of song, but a song to say what she was thinking.  Song, in this culture, was a means of communication.  It was raw and unacompanied and sung to get a message across.

And that's what I heard when I heard Justin Towne Earle.  It was music in it's pure, raw form, and it was heartbreaking and sad and lovely and wonderful.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to put it on a mix CD and mail it to Walton Goggins.  I wanted to listen to that album all night long.  He covered "Can't Hardly Wait," which automatically endears him to me because I love The Replacements.

That's the magic of a record party.  Your friends bring some stuff you don't know, you play some stuff they don't know.  Thor got his first real taste of Warren Zevon.  I discovered Justin Townes Earle.  And at the end of the evening when we said goodnight, I realized how such a quiet little evening had reintroduced me to two friends--not just Thor, but the power and the core of music itself.

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