You may know already that I’m in something called The Hobo Record Club a.k.a. Columbia Houseless, an incredibly shady organization that you should avoid. Basically it works like this, I sit at home minding my own business while drifters and con men leave records at my house. You should go read the first record club post for an explanation and then click here to see all of the examples of Hobo Record Club trickery.
You may have noticed that the record club has been absent from these pages for a while but don’t let that fool you, they are still leaving records and scheming against me, I’ve just been too busy to keep up on the blogging end of it so let me rectify that with one of their recent selections.
A few weeks ago I came home to find a record hidden in a tree behind my house but it wasn’t any record, it was a record that I love but one that has followed me around for years.
Yeah, those hobos brought me a copy of Tom Waits – Blue Valentine. Now if you know me you’re saying to the screen “You already own that record” send it back and to that I say the following:
1- I can’t hear you when you talk to the screen so stop that. It is a very ineffective way of communicating with me.
2- The hobo record club has a strict no returns policy.
3- I own it doesn’t mean I can’t use another copy, Blue Valentine has always been a favorite of mine.
Just look at how impossibly young Tom is on the cover. I first bought Blue Valentine at a similarly impossible age, I think I was 19 and I bought it used on vinyl from the old Uncle Phil’s Records in Massapequa*, for $2.99. As I rode the train two stops to Copiague I read the lyrics an liner notes and then hurried home to listen to it. I played that copy it until it wore out and then replaced it with a CD copy that was never quite as satisfying as the vinyl copy. That CD copy got lost in a breakup but four years ago I purchased it for a third time, from iTunes put it on my iPod, played it once while walking down Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles in the middle of the night and then never listened to it again.
For whatever reason I just couldn’t get enthused about Blue Valentine anymore. Maybe my tastes had simply shifted but more likely I felt like I wasn’t able to identify with the kid I was when I heard the record for the first time in 1993. It’s silly because I still listen to many records I first heard when I was in my teens or younger but this one felt like one I couldn’t return to. However before I tucked it away unheard I thought of how I felt riding the train home and then walking from the station to my house full of anticipation for a record I had never heard. Lately I’ve been homesick not only for that place but that time. In the pre internet world there was no sampling songs online, either you knew someone who could play it for you (and maybe copy it for you) or you too your chances and bought the record then hoped for the best. With this in mind I decided to take my chances on a repeat listen, for old times sake at least. While it doesn’t sound as great as I remember it (Blue Valentine is a lesser Waits record in my opinion), I enjoyed hearing it in the context I first discovered it in, on vinyl alone at night. The city has changed and I’ve gotten older but Blue Valentine on vinyl feels like going home, at least in my head.
Those record hobos are pretty sneaky sometime.
*For the Long Islanders reading this: Not the original Uncle Phils, I bought this at the later location in The Busy Bee Mall. Also, I’m homesick, thats why I keep adding people from Long Island on Facebook.