Cedar: This looks hysterical. (He pulls out Santana’s 1970 release, “Abraxos”.)
Dad: Nice pick. Here look. (I fold out the cover.) The cover art wraps around to the back. On the other side is a picture of the band in concert. This band is called Santana.
Cedar: (He looks shocked) I have a new friend at school named Santana!
Dad: Cool. Boy or girl?
Dad: (I put the record on.) Why don’t you sit right here in the middle. You can hear it in stereo then.
Cedar: What’s that?
Dad: Listen. Hear how the instruments are going back and forth? They recorded the sounds and mixed it so that it would sound like the instruments were in different places when you are listening.
Cedar: Yeah! (He points to the right speaker.) Trombone!
Dad: Nope. That’s a guitar. The guitar player is named Carlos Santana. This is his band. He plays guitar really well. He can make all kind of sounds with it.
Cedar: Carlos! (He shakes his head and laughs. I have no idea why.)
(We listen for awhile.)
Dad: Hear that?
Dad: Yep. And that?
Dad: I think they are bongos.
Cedar: Bongos in Spanish is “congas”.
Dad: Um. I don’t think so.
(we listen some more.)
Cedar: Sometimes I hear a guitar over hear (he points to the left speaker) and sometimes I hear it over hear (pointing to the right). And right now in both!
Dad: Nope. Guitar again. I told you he can make lots of sounds.
Cedar: Now that I’m 5 TV just seems boring.
Dad: Um, yeah. Not like listening records.
Cedar: YES! Listening to records and dancing (flips onto the bed). Can we take this off?
Dad: What? You don’t like it?
Dad: Not a ‘keep pile’ record?
Cedar: Can we play a little record?
Dad: A 45? Sure.
Cedar: Where’s that one I found before?
Dad: The one you picked out before? (“The Israelites” by Desmond Dekker)
Dad: It’s in the front of the 45s.
Cedar: Here it is. Yes. (He pulls it out.)
Dad: You need help with the adapter?
Cedar: No, it’s already got one in it.
Dad: Oh, daddy must have forgot to take it out last time.
(I help him put record on. He listens for awhile.)
Dad: What do you like about this song?
Cedar: I don’t know. Just like it. (I give him some time)
Dad: Do you like the music?
Cedar: Yes. That sound right there (he mimics a sound he hears) That I bet is an organ.
(I nod yes. He grins and pumps his fist in the air.)
Cedar: Did you know there is an organ at church?
Dad: Yes. That one is huge. The one in this song is much smaller (I hold my arms out to approximate the size.)
Cedar: What?! (He looks flabergasted.) Cool.What if there was a tiny organ you could hang on a key chain and make sounds with it?
Dad: That would be cool.
Cedar: Like that little harmonica I have. You can just go “waaannnk waaannnnk” (imitating his harmonica sounds) anytime you want.
(The record ends and we play the other side. After, I take it off and we look at the label.)
Dad: See this? That’s the logo for the record company, “Uni”. Cool swirls huh?
Cedar: Yeah. This looks kind of scratched up.
Dad: Yes, it’s kind of old, from when I was just born.
Cedar: But it is still good.
(I take the 45 adapter out.)
Cedar: How do you put them in? Just pop ‘em?
Dad: Yes, kind of. Look if you squeeze them just a little, they get smaller and fit in. The edges have a groove that hugs the inside of the record so they don’t pop out.
Cedar: Like a hug machine…that hugs all day!
Dad: Um, sure.
Cedar: What are these?
Dad: Those are box sets. I just found this box in the attic that we forgot to unpack.
Cedar: Those are records?
Cedar: No they aren’t! They’re just books.
Dad: Take one out. (I wait while he pulls one out.) Open it.
Cedar: See it’s not a record.
Dad: Open it. The records are inside.
Cedar: Ooh. Let’s put this one on.
Dad: Really? Okay. Not sure if you’ll like this.
Cedar: Is it punk rock?
Cedar: Is it like opera then?
Dad: No, it’s country.
Dad: Country music. This is a box set of classic country music.
(I put on track 1 from the first record, “I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew” by Tom T. Hall from 1974)
(Cedar is nodding)
Dad: You like this?
(we listen to the first couple of songs.
Cedar: This is a keep pile record.
Dad: Really? You liked it that much?
Dad: What does it sound like to you?
Cedar: I don’t know. Like nothing else.
Dad: What instruments do you hear?
Cedar: Just guitar. It’s just guitar.
Dad: Hm. I think there were some other instruments also. What would you call this music?
Cedar: I’d call it: “What is it’s name? music.”
Dad: Really. Cool.
Cedar: Hey, what is this?
Dad: You tell me.
Cedar: I like it.
Dad: What is it?
Cedar: I know…I’ve heard it before. Jamaica!
Dad: Yes it’s Jamaican, but who is it?
Cedar: Bob Marley!
Dad: Yes it is.
Cedar: (he is nodding his head to the music, eyes closed and grinning fiercely.)
Dad: You can hear all the instruments in this song. Hear the keyboard? And the drums?
Cedar: Yes. It’s slow. Like beach music.
Dad: Beach music? I guess so.
Cedar: Yeah like…(he start humming and dancing around slowing with his arms out.) Kind of slow and “beachy”. Beach music.
Dad: Nice. The way the keyboard sounds and the guitar, that’s how you can tell it’s reggae music.
Cedar: Oh. Did you known some wooden guitars can plug in?
Dad: Um, yeah.
Cedar: Did you know there are wooden guitars that are electric!? (he looks astounded.)
Dad: Yes I did.
Cedar: How do they do that?
Dad: What do you mean? If you can plug it in, it’s probably electric. Do you know what a guitar is called that isn’t electric?
Cedar: No, what?
Cedar: When I’m older, like 10 years old, I’m going to play a bass guitar.
Dad: Oh, really? Cool.
Cedar: No…a trombone. I’m going to play a trombone. (he starts mimicking playing a trombone and laughs.)
Dad: Looks like you are shooting a bow and arrow.
Cedar: (He giggles.) What if you put corn cobs in a trombone an played it?! Steaming hot corn cobs. You could play the trombone and shoot them out at people.
Dad: Wow. That would be something. What would people say about that?
Cedar: They would say “yum” because they would love corn. Actually I would shoot milk jugs at them because they would be “firsty”.
Cedar: Yes, they would be “firsty” and would be happy because they would have milk. I’m so “firsty” my heart is going to fall apart.
Dad: Do you need a drink?
Cedar: One day in music/art class I thought maybe I could make a hole in the wall and escape…and come home. Actually I did. Mr. Patterson said, ”Where is Cedar? Maybe he had to go to the potty.”
Dad: Wow. Do you need a drink buddy? You said you were thirsty.
Cedar: (he ignores me and is playing a “trombone” again.)
Dad: Does Mr. Patterson have trombones in your music class?
Cedar: No. I’m not going to play a trombone, I’m going to play a tuba. With pillows stuffed in it I can shoot out.
(he starts playing a “tuba”.
Dad: Cool. So is this a “keep pile” record or not?
(Cora hands me Disney’s Snow White soundtrack.)
Dad: Cora you want to listen to this one?
Cora: Yesh (she has a pacifier in her mouth as it’s 6:45 in the morning.)
(I put on the album. Cedar’s busy organizing his “tool box”, a sticker-covered tackle box full of old keys, mardi gras beads, matchbox cars, plastic tools and a broken flashlight.)
(The music starts - a heavily scratched sweeping orchestral opening.)
Cedar: Ugh. No! Not this. I don’t want to listen to this!
Dad: Cora picked the first record today. You can pick the next one.
Cedar: It was my turn!
Dad: Actually, you picked Jawbreaker last time. I just took it off the turntable. See? (I hold up the record I was just returning to it’s sleeve.)
Cedar: No I didn’t!
Dad: Yes you did. Remember? Yesterday? We were listening to Jawbreaker, really, really loud?
Cedar: Oh. Yeah. But I don’t listen to baby records anymore!
Dad: Well dude, we take turns. It was her turn. We’ll listen for a bit and then we can play your record. Why don’t you pick something out.
(Cedar fumbles through the records.)
Cedar: I can’t find any punk rock.
Dad: Just look through the records until you see something you like.
Cedar: This one. (He pulls out the record I just refiled moments ago.)
Dad: I just took Jawbreaker off the turntable. Pick a new one.
Cedar: Help me.
(I just reach in and grab the first record my hand touches, which happens to be The Cult and their third album, Electric from 1987.) .
Dad: How about this one?
Dad: The Cult. This record is called Electric. I liked this one in college a lot. I have a huge poster in the attic that I had on my dorm room wall.
Cedar: Can we see it some time?
Dad: Yes. We’ll have to dig it out.
(I put the record on. Cora immediately starts shaking her head in mini head banger style. She knows what she likes.)
Cedar: (looking at the cover.) Which one is the singer?
Dad: The guy in the furry hat. His name is Ian Astbury.
Cedar: Because he looks like a bear?
Dad: What? Um, sure.
(We rock out for awhile playing drums on the bed. I flip the record over and play Love Removal Machine.)
Dad: This song was really popular at the time. (Cedar goes to get one of his toy guitars to play along with. Cora pulls out another kids record.)
Cora: This one!
Dad: Hold on honey. We’ll play your record next.
Cora: NO! THIS ONE! (She starts to cry, then starts fighting with Cedar over the guitar.)
Dad: Cedar. Come look at the record with me. Check out all these photos inside. (Cora drops the guitar and comes to look with us.)
Cedar: Why do they have bullets all around? (He’s pointing to the background photo on the inside of the gatefold album cover)
Dad: That’s just the photo they picked. What did you think of this record?
Cedar: I liked it. No…maybe not. Didn’t like it.
Dad: Didn’t like it? Why.
Cedar: I don’t know. “No-no pile”…No. “Yes pile”…No…”No-no pile.”
(He’s like a scratched record.)
Dad: What would call this music?
Cedar: I don’t know.
Dad: Punk rock?
Cedar: No. Maybe “baby punk rock”.
Dad: Baby punk rock?
Cedar: Like for Jared’s age.
Dad: But Jared’s 11?
Cedar: No dude. He’s 12. (Cedar walks out of the room with his guitar.)
Cedar Turns 5 today!
Happy Birthday my little music critic.
Cedar: What’s this one called?
Dad: The Fun Boy Three.
Dad: That’s what they decided to call their band.
Dad: Guess they thought it was cool. Why did you call your band The Cucumbers?
Cedar: I changed the name. It’s not The Cucumbers.
Cedar: We’re called The Awesome Friends now.
Dad: Cool. So you think we should play this record?
Dad: What do you like about the way it looks?
Cedar: The guys look cool, with interesting hair.
Dad: Yeah they do.
Cedar: The guy in the middle has weird hair. Like it’s all sweaty and drooling down his face.
(I put on side 2 which starts with It Ain’t What You Do, their big hit.)
(Cedar starts nodding his head to the music. He must like it.)
Dad: Look at the other side of the cover. It says “The FUN BOY THREE” in big letters. Kind of like you’d have “Attack of the Zombies” from an old movie poster.
(He giggles, but can’t really know what I’m talking about now that I think of it. Cora looks worried at the mention of zombies.)
Dad: Terry Hall, Neville Staples and Lynval Golding. Those are the guys in the band. And down here are the back up singers. They are from another band called Bananarama.
Cedar: Ha! (He tries to say it) Bananarammer! Funny.
Dad: Yeah it’s pretty funny.
(song 2, The Telephone Always Rings starts)
Cedar: It sounds like little babies talking like a big, old man.
(Cedar is standing next to the bed, bending over and beating his face into the mattress. Hard, full-bodied pounding of his face into the comforter. Cora is giggling and trying to copy him.)
(…later…the record ends)
Dad: So what do you think? You were singing along to some of the songs. Did you like it?
Cedar: No. I didn’t like the other side.
Dad: We only listened to 1 side.
Cedar: Oh. I only liked the first song.
Dad: So, bad pile?
Cedar: Yep. Never play again pile.
Dad: Really? Okay.
Dad: Let’s play some records!
Dad: Pick something out.
Cedar: There’s too many. I can’t pick one.
Dad: Just walk over to the shelf, close your eyes and grab the first record your hand touches.
Dad: Okay. I’ll grab one. (I reach into the collection and pull something out.) Look here. I bought this record in high school. I heard it was good and I just went to the store and bought it without ever hearing it.
Dad: Yep. That’s what we did back then. I knew after a few listens I’d know how much I liked it. I liked it after just 1 listen.
(He looks doubtful. I put on the record.)
Dad: It’s by a band called The Cure. It’s called The Head On The Door.
(He nods as he appraises the album cover. I put the record on and the kids start dancing.)
Dad: The lead singer is named Robert Smith. He had really crazy hair that stuck up all over the place. Kind of like when we put gel in your hair that one time. Remember?
(He smiles and nods.)
Cedar: Remember Jack Black and the Muppets?
Cedar: Jack Black was funny. And the Muppets. (He giggles and falls on the carpet.)
Dad: Yeah he was. What reminded you of that?
Cedar: I don’t know.
(Still lying on the floor, he clamps his feet around his passing sister.)
Cedar: Dad can we get a monkey trap?
Dad: What are you talking about? What made you think of a monkey trap?
Cedar: My friends would think it was fun when they come over.
Dad: Sure. Let’s get a monkey trap. I’ll look for one next time we’re at the store.
Dad: Okay, let’s pick some records. How about a new one?
Cedar: I want to listen to an old one.
Dad: How about 1 of each? A new one and an old one?
Dad: Cora can you pick a record?
Cora: Mm Hm. (She nods while picking out Yung Wu’s Shore Leave and handing it to me.)
Dad: Nice choice Cora! Yung Wu.
Cedar: I want this one!
(He hands me the Sergio Mendes and Brasil ‘66 album we play all the time now.)
Dad: Wow you really liked Sergio Mendes huh?
Dad: Okay. Let’s try the new one first and then the old one.
Dad: We’ll get to both buddy. Don’t you worry.
(I put on the record and 2 seconds in…)
Cedar: Keep pile!
Dad: Wow. It does sound good doesn’t it?
Dad: This band was really named, The Feelies. They would put out records sometimes using a different name.
Dad: I don’t know. Maybe to mix things up a bit. They probably thought it was fun. Look at the photo on the cover. It’s an old picture of Japanese sailors harvesting sea weed. This guy looks really proud here. (Cedar looks confused.)
(We listen for awhile)
Dad: So what do you think of this record buddy?
Cedar: Why do you always ask me?! I don’t know! I’ve runned out of words!
Dad: What are you talking about? I just wondered if you thought this was good, or slow, or sounded kind of fun. You know plenty of words to describe this.
(He’s been getting lots of people telling him they like the blog and they like to read what he thinks about records. It’s finally setting in what I’m doing with our conversations and he’s getting self conscious I think.)
Cedar: It like you always ask me what I think and I runned out of words. You are making the words go out of my head!
Dad: Alright. Just thought you could tell me if you liked it or not.
Cedar: No, I can’t.
Dad: Cora, do you like this music?
Cora: Mm hm. (She nods, raises her hands and starts dancing.)
Dad: So Cedar, what do you think about the name of this band? The band The Feelies made a record and used a different name and put a picture of sailors harvesting sea weed on the cover. Why do you think they would do that?
Cedar: I think they were being tricky.