Originally posted November 7, 2009:
I wrote earlier this week about my Ultimate Jukebox project, a series of posts that will list and comment on the two hundred songs I’d want in such a machine. Well, the research has begun, and I can already tell that trimming the list of records to that count of two hundred is going to be difficult.
As a result, I’ve been preoccupied this week. And in the absence of something more compelling to write about, I thought I’d limp on one of my favorite crutches of this past year and see what records I’ve acquired in November over the years. As is usual with this topic, I’ll look at the years from 1964 through 1989 this week and the succeeding years on another Saturday in November. (The calendar for the month’s weekends is already crowded; I have no doubt that I will find a Saturday that requires a quick and easy topic.)
Early on, as I’ve noted along the way, I wasn’t always keeping track of when I got what records, and I had to estimate the months of some acquisitions. I’m pretty sure that November of 1964 brought me the soundtrack to the Disney movie Mary Poppins, home of the silly and utterly infectious “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and the exquisite “Feed the Birds.” That’s the only November acquisition on which I have to guess; I know that I got my second Al Hirt album, That Honey Horn Sound, on a trip to Minneapolis in November 1965.
After that, I got a few years older and broadened my musical tastes before getting any records in November. In 1971, I got my copies of 13, the Doors’ greatest hits album, and Jethro Tull’s Aqualung. The former is still a decent hits album, though my taste for the Doors has waned over the years. The Tull album – one I honestly haven’t heard very much for a long time – is one I enjoyed immensely at the time. I should cue it up someday and see how it holds up.
Sometime in the next year, I joined a record club, and on a November day in 1972, I opened a package that had a pretty good duo: Buffalo Springfield’s Retrospective and the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers. I also picked up a copy of John Lennon’s Imagine that month, but I find that one to be another record that’s lost its luster over time; I only have a few tracks from it in my digital files.
After another blank November in 1973 – there were better things to do in Denmark than to buy records – I found myself mostly home-bound in November of 1974. Rick came over one day with a few records to divert me: Blood, Sweat & Tears’ second, self-titled album, the Association’s Greatest Hits, the Bee Gees’ 2 Years On and Odessa, and Quincy Jones’ Ndeda. The best of those? Odessa is a great, if sprawling album. On the other hand, I never quite got into Ndeda although it still has its place on the shelves.
Bob Dylan’s New Morning came home with me in November of 1975. And then there’s another gap, this one a long one. I didn’t acquire another November record until 1982, when my haul was the odd pairing of The Richard Harris Love Album and Steely Dan’s Can't Buy A Thrill. The Harris album was an anthology that I bought because it included both “MacArthur Park” and “Didn’t We,” the only two performances by Harris I really like.
In the eleventh month of 1983, I got as a gift the Motown-studded soundtrack to the film The Big Chill. I’m not sure what it is about November, but there was then another gap of several years before the month brought me new music again.
That happened in 1987, and I brought home fifteen LPs that month. In no particular order, there was music from Willie Nelson, ABBA, Joan Baez, Simon & Garfunkel, the Alan Parsons Project, Crosby Stills & Nash, the Sanford/Townsend Band, Bob Dylan, The Band, Joe Cocker, Gordon Lightfoot and Paul McCartney. There were also two soundtracks: The Big Easy and Dirty Dancing. The best album of the bunch remains The Band’s Music From Big Pink. At the other end of the spectrum, Allies by Crosby, Stills & Nash is a pretty weak effort.
I continued to haunt garage sales, used record shops and the few places that sold new vinyl in Minot, North Dakota, and in November of 1988, I found LPs by the Eagles, Aretha Franklin, Jigsaw, the Rolling Stones and England Dan & John Ford Coley. Go ahead and blink. I also grabbed a K-Tel compilation titled Superstars Greatest Hits, which lost its apostrophe somewhere.
In 1989, as the first half of the November chronicles come to an end, I was in Anoka, Minnesota, and a lady friend brought me some albums from her collection as gifts: John Denver’s Poems, Prayers & Promises, Loggins & Messina’s self-titled album, an album by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap and an anthology of well-known hits from the 1950s and 1960s.
So what to share from this mélange of November acquisitions? Well, the best album out of all of these might be Willie Nelson’s Stardust or maybe The Basement Tapes by Bob Dylan and The Band. But Odessa remains a favorite. At least one of its tracks will show up down the road, but for now, here’s the opening track of Side Three, the lush “Lamplight,” as your Saturday Single.
“Lamplight” by the Bee Gees from Odessa