Sunday, January 03, 2010


“Daddy, what’s that?” my daughter asked, as I held the round, black vinyl disc by the edges.

“A record,” I replied.

“What’s it for?”

I laughed first, then reminiscing about my own childhood with records, I said in my best Bill Cosby voice: “Riiiiight.”

My friends Rob and Eric bought me a USB turntable for Christmas. This is a wonderful gift, because I have a number of records on vinyl that will likely never see the light of day on CD or even as downloadable files on iTunes. I have some commonly known comedians like the aforementioned Bill Cosby, who has CD’s of his classic comedy, but I also have Homer & Jethro. I have Steve Martin, but I also have Jonathan Winters. Among the otherwise unreleased records I have are the soundtrack for “Song of the South,” several PowerRecords, including one from the Six Million Dollar Man, as well as one of famous monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman (with Neal Adams art, no less). But my favorite old record is probably Buckingham Nicks, the album that Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham did before they joined Fleetwood Mac.

I think, though, that digging through that treasure trove of comedy is going to be a blast. It’s easily what influenced my own sense of humor more than anything else. Bill Cosby was a heck of a lot funnier as a standup comic than he ever was on television. My brother and I used to listen for hours at our grandparents’ house to his recollections of growing up in Philadelphia. That’s where I first heard of Fat Albert and Bill’s brother Russell. It wasn’t from any kind of cartoon.

The Smothers Brothers were well ahead of their time when they recorded “The Golden Hits of the Smothers Brothers, Volume 2 (there is no Volume 1, reads the blurb on the record cover).” Combining their brand of folk music with constant interruptions of fraternal bickering was always good for a laugh. I still remember my grandfather saying, “I’d like them a lot better if they just kept playing their damn music!”

It’s going to be fun listening to records I haven’t heard since about 1995, which was the last time I owned a working record player!

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