This Ain't No Coconuts

On Saturday, a bunch of the boys met over at Jeff Wright's house, had some of his excellent chili cheese dip, then went on an adventure to the Record Exchange, St. Louis' closest kin to Championship Records in High Fidelity.

Truth is, I've spent much of my life at the Record Exchange, starting back in Junior High, right after the store first opened in 1976 (originally down the street from its current location). Back in my baby-show-tune-freak days, I was a newbie collector of cast albums, and the idea of finding the older stuff for four or five bucks was a revelation for me! Back then I had about 50 cast albums on LPs. Today I have about 800, God help me.

I'd go every month or so and always leave with several cast albums of show I had never heard of up till then -- wonderful shows like On the Town, Pal Joey, Carnival, Fiorello!, The Apple Tree, and so many others. Sometimes I'd bring in a pile of my crappy pop albums (Air Supply, anyone?), and they would graciously accept the pile for ten bucks in store credit, even though looking back, I'm sure they found my crap virtually worthless...

But even though I'm a longtime Record Exchange patron, it was so much fun to go there Saturday in the context of High Fidelity. To really register the beauty and chaos and clutter and the oceans and oceans of music in this place! To be surrounded by the Beatles, Springsteen, Elvis, James Brown -- and that smell of old LPs. There's truly nothing like it. Even today, in the age of CDs and MP3s, this place still feels like a cathedral.

In fact, maybe it seems even more like one today.

The owner of the place, Jean, is the nicest guy in the world. Jeff had already talked to him about our show, and we brought him postcards and posters, which he immediately put out in the store. We told him we were looking for a 45s case for one scene in the show, and asked him where we could find that -- he turned and walked away, and a few minutes later returned with the most wonderful, beat-up, taped together 45s case, just perfect for holding Rob's Mother Lode.

We bought a couple LPs, including Springsteen's "The River" for Rob to talk to at the beginning of "Goodbye and Good Luck." We also bought some classic 45s that Rob mentions as part of his Mother Lode collection. These are 45s the audience probably won't even see, but it'll mean something to the actors that those records are really there -- some Elvis, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis... Things like that bring such a cool vibe to a show, little tidbits of reality...

We also met one of the guys working at the store who is totally like one of the characters in the show!

After our adventure, we went back to Jeff's and he fed us dinner. He's the best host ever. He has a great house, he always has great food, and he's the friendliest, warmest guy I know, so that helps too.

All in all, a great adventure. This show is turning out to be a much deeper, more emotional experience for me than I expected. I love that.

Long Live the Musical!