Monday, November 28, 2016

Remember Me as a Sunny Day

Depending on your threshold for pain, there are multiple ways to relive the past.

In the less than two weeks since I got my turntable, I have lost hours, nay, entire day parts (and half the nights) listening to records, mostly with others, but alone as well.

It's already obvious I won't have any problem getting people to listen to records with me, but even better, some of my guests bring me gifts - the first three Pretender albums, new Yo la Tengo and the National - to ensure they'll be asked back. Smart men, all.

The sheer delight of listening to my decades-old record collection (so many albums lost to exes) keeps landing me in the Way Back Machine as I repeatedly get lost in what the song/album meant to me or reminds me of, how I came to it and why I loved it enough to buy it.

So after reading an article about Diana Ross in yesterday's Washington Post (ahead of her upcoming shows in D.C.), I thought it a fitting listen when I came across her 1976 Greatest Hits album.

The songs were mostly familiar, but where I became completely enraptured was when "Remember Me" came on.

The first notes of the piano grabbed me by the adolescent heart as I recalled how that Ashford & Simpson song - about a girl dumped by her guy, wishing him the best and imploring him to remember her as a good thing - had ruled my young world for a bit, despite the plain fact that I hadn't had so much as the stirrings of a relationship yet.

Remember me as the sound of laughter
And my face the morning after...
Remember me as a breath of Spring
Remember me as a good thing

Was I already looking past getting a boyfriend to getting dumped and moving on? Who knows how the teen age mind works?

And while I like how present you have to be when you're playing vinyl - even when it takes you directly to the past - some people I know prefer to look back at their lives by being mocked by all their friends rather than listening to old records, so when I got an invitation to Parker's 40th birthday roast at Gallery 5 last night, I signed on.

The only requested donation was for scarves, hats and canned goods for the Dakota pipeline protesters and I was more than happy to winnow my scarf and glove basket for the sake of a worthy cause. That it was also a benefit for Planned Parenthood, with all monetary proceeds being donated in Mike Pence's name made it even sweeter.

Lobo Marino played first and it was harmonium player and singer Laney who asked of the crowd, "Can I real quick get a show of hands of who's seen Parker's testicles?" Fully two thirds of the room raised their hands, although mine was not among them.

Because Laney had a cold and because the evening was all about Parker, Lobo Marino planned to play a short set.

It was after they did a moving new post-election song from their upcoming album that they invited former bandmate Nathaniel to join them onstage to play banjo.

During that song, the brown-skinned, mutton-chopped musician and one of the night's official roasters leaned toward me and whispered, "Let us not deny the whiteness of this - one man is playing banjo and another is playing jaw harp while beating his bare foot on a drum."

It was mighty white, I had to agree, but then, so is Parker and the diaper he's been known to wear.

Next up was singer/guitarist Georgie Isaacs, and part of her connection to Parker, like several others, was learning about the coal ash situation from his non-stop Facebook feed. See, it's not only about genitals with Parker.

But probably in a nod to the birthday boy, she did a mash-up that included "I Wanna Be Like You" from "The Jungle Book," as well as a couple of self-penned gems, one about needing a penis between her thighs and the other about procrastination masturbation ("I'll get to it as soon as I get off").

Burlesque queen Deanna Danger did a clown striptease (because, of course, Parker wanted one) that involved putting a gold top hat with shamrock on the birthday boy (clad in a vest and red sequin Speedo) and having him hold a rainbow while she squirted Velveeta into his pot of gold.

The roast itself skewered not only Parker ("Dude, I'll never get over the visual of you kissing my Mom") but the other roasters as well, making for equal opportunity mud-slinging.

You'd have to be a brave soul to sign on to being onstage with this bunch.

If my friends were to roast me, I can just imagine the aspects of Karen they'd mock. Bon would blast how fast I walk and Pru my need for multi-tasking, while Holmes would berate my overly long bangs. Moira would tease me about expecting my friends to keep up with me.

The list could go on if I'd allow it.

Instead, I'll skip the roast and go back to listening to records with friends. Although I began my new millennium record-listening party with a selection of rag tag albums from my checkered past, the irresistible urge to go buy more now that I have myself this groovy hi-fi has taken me to three record stores, one twice.

From "Roxy Music: The Atlantic Years 1973-80" to three Joan Armatrading records to "The Best of Donny Hathaway," I am meandering through the byways of my past via music I haven't heard in years, if not decades. That it all sounds so fabulous on vinyl only makes the trip better.

Welcome to 40, Parker. Ain't no mountain high enough to keep you from exposing your genitalia for decades to come. Age, my friend, isn't about how old you are, but how many friends and records you enjoy along the way.

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