April 01, 2005

Memory: Things We Carried

Lately I’ve been remembering my school days, something I rarely do anymore. So apropos of nothing, here’s a list of phonograph albums it was prestigious to be seen carrying through the halls of the Bronx High School of Science circa 1966-1969. Yes, we used to carry 12-inch LPs in our arms along with our books during the school day, the cover art facing outward (this was before students carried backpacks). Why? To show we were hip, of course. There were a couple more defensible reasons too: we might be lending a record to a friend or returning one to him—or making a special trip to his house to play it under just the right conditions. Also, one of our classmates had an uncle/father/someone who owned a record distributorship, and we used to place orders with him for two dollars a record as opposed to the retail four. (I think I’m remembering those prices correctly, but they might have been a dollar or so higher.)

* = personally carried by me
+ = too advanced for me

Eric Andersen: ‘Bout Changes ‘n Things
Big Brother and the Holding Company: Cheap Thrills
Blues Project: Projections*; Live at the Café Au Go Go*
Tim Buckley: Goodbye and Hello; Happy/Sad
Buffalo Springfield: Again; Retrospective
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica+
Country Joe and the Fish: Electric Music for the Mind and Body*; I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die
Cream: Fresh Cream; Disraeli Gears
Doors: first album*; Strange Days*
Fugs: It Crawled into My Hands+
Grateful Dead: Anthem of the Sun*; Aoxomoxoa*
Richie Havens: Something Else Again; Electric Havens
Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced?; Axis: Bold as Love; Electric Ladyland
Jefferson Airplane: Surrealistic Pillow*; After Bathing at Baxter's (warning: their website bummed out my browser)
Charles Lloyd: Forest Flower*
Mothers of Invention: Freak Out!; Absolutely Free
Quicksilver Messenger Service: first album*; Happy Trails*
Velvet Underground and Nico: “banana” album+
Who: Sell Out; Tommy

The discerning eye will see that this was not the average American high school of the time. Though I had my quarrels with Bronx Science, one thing about it will always make me proud: by tradition, the prom was cancelled every year for lack of interest. And I hope that still holds true today.

ADDENDUM: The list isn't exhaustive, but it would have been more revealing if I'd added Moby Grape, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.