I can't remember when I've seen a larger group of laughing people queuing up to spend money. Yet there they were at Vintage Vinyl on September 9 during its one-day-only Beatles promotion.
What a scene it was: "Roll Over Beethoven" rocking on VV's excellent sound system, while old people, young people, people with babes in arms and a kid who is probably supposed to be at high school right now, all grinning at one another with giddy anticipation. And why are we jamming the aisles? To buy Beatles albums we most likely already own and know by heart?
Yes, because it's this music. Because it's a chance to hear the funky keyboard percolations of "Think for Yourself" in an organic clarity that has been lacking on all previous incarnations of Rubber Soul. (Something I'm hearing right now. And it's divine.)
The Beatles are huge, a myth, four guys who changed the way popular music is conceived, composed and consumed. That's the legend. But — hold on a second: The swooning "Ooooh-oooooohs" of "Michelle" just kicked in. I gotta ride this out. Sweet merciful George Martin, that is gorgeous. Just beautiful. It's like falling in love for the first time, you know? Has this song ever sounded better? George's guitar outro is liquid beauty stolen from Keats' mouth.
All right, where were we? Right, the Beatles. Bigger than life, etc., etc. Forget about the beginnings and endings and all the folderol in between, and just focus on the music. That's what these remasters are about, and that's what today is about. This music makes people happy, and there's never enough of that going around.
Standing in Vintage Vinyl with the three albums I intended to buy (Rubber Soul, Revolver, The White Album) and the three that somehow ended up in my sweaty hands (Let It Be, Abbey Road, Past Masters), watching cashiers and customers exchange smiles and jokes, seeing Papa Ray in a crisp Beatles T-shirt and getting a free apple from Lew Prince (he bought four crates for the customers). It's delightful to be among friendly strangers who are sharing the same joy and excitement at 10:30 on a Wednesday morning.
And "In My Life" still makes me tear up, I just discovered. Forty years on, the Beatles can still bring you to your knees and then lift you right back up — even when you're a cynical sonofabitch with nary a kind word for anyone. That's the power of music. It's absolutely worth $9.99 to feel that.
But the chance to experience this exhilaration pulsating in a store full of people who are remembering first times and worst times and lost friends and new hopes, all set to a soundtrack that will never be equaled for its humanity and moments of pop invention — that is priceless.
And, hey, free apples while they last.
Trouble in a Well-Ordered Paradise
The Post-Dispatch had a curious story on September 9 about a rift between members of the St. Charles neighborhood of New Town.
For those of you not in the know, New Town is a planned community modeled after the "new urbanism" theory of architecture designed to mimic neighborhoods built prior to the advent of the automobile. These new urbanist communities feature pedestrian-friendly walkways, community centers and lots of rules aimed at fostering a genteel and civil society.
As I discovered back in 2006, some of those rules include no molded plastic furniture on front porches, no outdoor clotheslines, no aluminum or vinyl fences, no colored window shades, no storm doors, no real estate brokerage signs, etc. The list also includes rules regarding sound. Gas lawn mowers, for example, are prohibited in part because of their noise.
But how loud is loud?
The story in the Post-Dispatch reports how some New Town residents now want to lift the noise restrictions for entertainment purposes, such as wedding receptions, restaurant music and sand volleyball. The article, though, gives no context as to what constitutes loud.
Curious, I called up the sales office over at New Town to find out.
The current sound restrictions in New Town call for no noise above 65 decibels between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight and no noise above 55 decibels between midnight and 6 a.m.
A new proposal — now in effect for a one-year trial period — will allow New Town residents to bring the noise to 75 decibels from 6 a.m. to midnight and 65 decibels at all other hours.
Question: How loud is that?
Answer: Not very.
Decibel levels between 70 and 80 could be compared to an electric shaver, an average radio or normal street noise — whereas decibels between 60 and 70 are the equivalent of conversational speech.
Oh, and gas-powered lawn mowers? They still won't pass muster even in a louder New Town. They average about 100 decibels.
Going Ape Over Banned Band Evolution T-Shirts
A Daily RFT post on August 31 about a Sedalia, Missouri, high school that prohibited its band members from wearing T-shirts of apes and Neanderthals carrying musical instruments generated dozens of comments from readers.
Now comes word that the T-shirt that offended some of the students' creationist-believing parents is one of the best things to ever happen to Main Street Logo, the Sedalia business that made the shirts.
Last week one of the owners of the shop told the Pitch, the RFT's sister paper in Kansas City, that the T-shirts have sold like hot cakes, thanks to the online popularity of the ban. "We're just getting too many requests," says Jack Lewis, who co-owns Main Street with Mike Ingram. "We're getting them from foreign countries [and] about all the states."
Lewis adds that his company owns the rights to the artwork and can use it how he sees fit — though he's trying not to offend school officials.
Those interested in obtaining a shirt can e-mail Main Street at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the company's Facebook page.