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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Don McLean's American Pie and the record shops


Reading last Mojo music mag issue, I had the pleasure to know the behind the curtains story of one of my heroes, a man who grew up in New Rochelle, NY state and read about Buddy Holly's untimely death during his morning job as a kid, delivering newspapers... a poet and sensitive human being who wrote Vincent after Van Gogh's life and facts and... American Pie.

This very song, 8 minutes+ long, I heard at the radio in 1971 when it was issued... I remember - hey I was quite young, and had had my very first LP (Le Orme - Collage) as a Christmas' gift from my dad, that year - I saw that 45 rpm strange cover on a... sewing machines shop which also sold some records!!!

It was the only record they had behind the window glass and looked so powerful... I still remember I looked at the painted thumb, very impressed.

Entered the shop and asked for a listen to that record side one and two of the song, splitted in two parts, one per side...

I bought it... ottocentolire (eighthundred italian lira) and it stayed with me for almost my life - I still have it - and it still seems strange to me listening to "American Pie" as a single shot... "my" American Pie is splitted in two, like on "my" 45 rpm...

Forty years ago, I fondly remember, in my hometown, Padua, there were plenty of record shops... tiny, large, franchising groups, alternative, specialized (disco, second-hand), discount/remainders/cut-offs, in every shopping-mall there was a records corner; there was also a Decca group wholesaler with zillions discs where I purchased AMAZING records, then MUCH sought-after collector's items...

I remember, when about 15-16 years old, I used to browse with some insistence at a newly opened "strange" record-shop, Il Ventitre Dischi, (twentythree records, so named after the street number, Via Soncin, 23...) - the owner was a musician who toured South America for months with a singer, then to become a famed soundtracks composer, Pino Donaggio, and returned with money enough to open a London-styled records shop: no small records-bins, BUT a pipe-line-like tube, Lenco turntables like in a disco and some cool, multicoloured cubes where to listen to music, seated...

This place soon became a gathering place in town where youngsters met to chat of music and the like...

Maurizio Boldrin, the former drummer and owner of the shop knew where to shop for import-records, not alone in Italy (Carù, Nannucci, Buscemi): every town had his "right" place for records shopping...

It happened after some weeks I was hired as a part-time clerk and counter seller... this fact someway changed my life... I was paid in discs;-)))!!!

Jefferson Airplace, Grateful Dead, Hot Tuna, Moby Grape... Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Martin Carthy, John Renbourn, John Fahey... the complete discographies augmented... on and on...

Cool music, people, girls.... GIRLS.

Then, years on... after my shop knowledge, I wrote some little review on "The Wild Bunch" and "L'Ultimo Buscadero" music mags... and music was, definitely, in my DNA, like records and collecting.

... then they arrested the owners of a freaky record shop for dope and, shortly after one, two, many tiny suburban records shops closed... only larger shops survived... but the Magic was gone.


.... woooooooooooooooooooooshhhhhhhhhh...

... entered the digital disks... then it was the Web and downloads era...


... but I'm still purchasing vinyls like in the '70s and smelling inside the covers like I used to do in my teens... to try to replicate the emotion of Miles Davis' SIESTA OST and Joni Mitchell's For the Roses which smelled of patchouli (!!!) and first Windham Hill's discs, which scented so good and... I still cherishes my "American Pie" single.

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