The Hobo Record Club Comes Out Of The Past

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.



Filed under hobo record club, Music Nerdery

11 responses to “The Hobo Record Club Comes Out Of The Past

  1. I agree that Blue Valentine is not a superior Tom Waits album, but MAN……even a less-than-superior Tom Waits album is an absolutely DIVINE pick. I’m jealous of your membership to Columbia Houseless :)

    Oh, and fuckpants!!!!!!

  2. So now the Hobos have a Boo Radley tree?

  3. i think of the hobo record club every time i drive by the guys having a “guitar sale” on the front lawn of some multi-unit complex on cahuenga just over the hill near toluca lake…they must be related.

  4. Are you still paying 12 cents a year for this service?

  5. This naturally brings up the question, if Blue Valentine in lesser Tom Waits, what qualifies as greater Tom Waits?

    For my wooden nickel, I’d go with Small Change, Nighthawks and the Diner, Swordfishtrombones, Frank’s Wild Years, Rain Dogs and Bone Machine, with a terribly soft spot for the Black Rider.

  6. betheboy

    Jay- In my mind it’s Nighthawks, Small Change, Rain Dogs, Bone Machine in that order. I actually like the Black Rider as well minus the Burroughs portions.

  7. I still maintain that my Will married me because I have Rain Dogs on vinyl.

  8. I love to imagine what the first listen of Swordfishtrombones must have done to hardcore early Waits fans. I image them crying, “Oh, no, he’s been possessed by the dead spirit of Kurt Weill!”

  9. What a good choice HRC, Sometimes I think it’s important to own multiple copies of favourites and importants…
    Tom waits is one of my favourites to listen to while working, I don’t know why. he just belongs with coffee…

  10. Pagne

    If by any chance you don’t need two of the same Tom Waits album, I would happily take one off your hands.

  11. you just might be the luckiest boy in the land with your hobo record club.

    if you can’t hear me when i talk to the screen, how is it that i can see you on the saturday night show? explain that mister man.

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