SAINTS PRESERVE US
A Brief History of a Thief Called Time
The latest Bob Dylan album, released about a month ago, is getting heavy airplay here in the house. We have tickets for the Who show in town scheduled for October. There are rumours of a Rolling Stones North American summer tour. What year is it!? I know, I know, they’ve sped up and begun bumping into each other. Time folded back on itself and then paused to survey the knotty damage.
All right, my old friend, you dad rocker you, let’s stop wheezing for a second and contemplate another time, the 14 years between 1966 and 1980. Spark a doobie, crack a beer and now take a moment to muse upon the rock canon of epic, brilliant double-LP studio albums we purchased between the releases of Blonde on Blonde and The Wall. Jesus, if you were to build a music library from scratch, you could do worse than seeding the storage shelf with Dylan, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, Bruce Springsteen, the Clash, Genesis and Elton John.
Sorry? Just a glass of white now and then? Sucks to be you, most of my meds don’t come from doctors. Anyway, remember 1975? Led Zeppelin was arguably the biggest band in the world. That year they dropped Physical Graffiti, four monumental sides of the mighty, mighty Zep at the apex of their astonishing creative powers. The album didn’t plod like some of their earlier releases and Robert Plant didn’t screech as if a black dog had Plant’s golden god balls in its jaws. ‘Night Flight’ still sends me even though my tastes in music have lightened up somewhat through the decades. And ‘Kashmir,’ whoa, nine minutes that flew by like three. Even the die cut cover art was borderline genius, especially when you slid the inner sleeves up and down – all kinds of things went on in the windows.
I am now old enough to qualify for the seniors’ discount at IHOP. I can now buy other goods and services at a slightly reduced rate. I suspect the same goes for you. This means we probably spend more time at drugstores than with drug dealers. Chain pharmacies have a peculiar smell, sort of a mingling of cosmetics and disease. But when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. You get that, right?
These days everybody tries to sell you everything in the name of convenience. What I mean is that major retailers are trying to be all things to all people; they’re all inflicted with Amazonitis. The gas station will sell you milk and Teen Burgers. Wal-Mart will sell you Big Macs and eyeglasses. The grocer has its own line of cheap chic fashion, a bank and a pharmacy. The drugstore has a wellness aisle featuring Oreos, Doritos and Coke.
Thursday morning I was idly flipping through the London Drugs circular because where else would you begin looking for a digital camera (I’m developing an interest in photography) at a decent price? I was struck by a bargain: the 40th anniversary edition of Physical Graffiti, re-re-remastered by guitarist Jimmy Page – whatever happened to his Satanic wizard suit - was an advertised special right there along with the Epsom printers, vitamins and patent medicines. I had two questions. Does London Drugs employ lunatics as buyers? Can I get a job there?
We were about the same age in 1975 me and you. I was 15. That was forty years ago. We don’t hang around like we used to; frankly, there aren’t that many record stores left to haunt. Don’t laugh, but it occurs to me that last year I bought the new Springsteen and Pink Floyd CDs at London Drugs. It’s not like I haunt the drugstore, but I guess we’re just at that age now… I’m with you, man, I don’t know what happened either. You can’t go back. Still, on some level, I guess it makes sense in some weird way that we can re-buy Physical Graffiti at London Drugs.