Born Again Again

January 3, 2016 at 2:55 am (Waxing Nostalgic)

Born Again coverI  love the Multnomah County Library. Without them I would be adrift in a sea of ignorance. Oh, I have the Internet, but how would I have access to the cool stuff I can’t afford otherwise? I mean, I’d love to hear Jack White’s new project, but I’m not dropping  $20 unless I know I’m gonna love it. Radio?  WTF is that? They only play Steve Miller, Queen and Def Leppard.

That’s fine, but I want new stuff. And old stuff I haven’t heard in a while. Stuff so old it’s new again.

Hello, public library.

I have been a fan of libraries since grade school. In second grade the “bell went off,” and I transported to different worlds on a daily basis. Discovery Books, a series of biographies of historical figures, saw me to bed each night. I could kill off a book before falling asleep. I think I read 128 books that year.

The Sandy librarian,  Mrs Crownover, was an early hero. Seeing me struggle to find interesting  things at my reading level, she gave me an adult library card at age twelve. It was up to me to lie my ass off if mom ever found out, and I was okay with that. They were neighborly rivals, and I am sure Mrs C saw me smoking in the woods by her house. If not for her I might still be reading Discovery Books, but instead I spent my teen years reading the early works of Stephen King, Raymond Chandler, or anything with a sexual bent. (There were a few of those in the Sandy library.) As I got older, I obtained library cards for the tri-county area. Back before computers tracked your every move.

Instead of ranting about how computers are ruining books and libraries, I am here to sing praise to the open-minded souls who have embraced modern technology, and created a library system that would make George Jetson swear in profuse amazement.

CDs have been available for decades, and vinyl albums made the rounds back in the day, but did you know I can listen to albums for free on my cell phone, streamed from the library? There’s an app for everything! I’d wanted to check out the new Neil Young and the Blue Notes Live CD, but it cost $17 plus postage from Amazon. (Free MP3 copy with that, but I hadn’t heard it. I still haven’t made it through Greendale yet.) When I saw it available at the library through the streaming service, I figured why not see what else my fancy phone could do? Within five minutes I was listening to Ten Men Working.

Since I was at it, might as well see what else was available to stream. I can “borrow” eight albums a month, so I got my favorite Motorhead album (RIP Lemmy) and a couple Zappas that would have cost $40 each. My only complaint was that it bled my phone battery dry in record time.

While looking through Black Sabbath, I found CDs that had been out of print for ages, now reissued. Nobody said the love had to be exclusive; I could burn a CD or two on the sly.

Back in 1983, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne were vying for top notch in the evil gods of rock wars. After Ronnie James Dio left Sabbath, Bill Ward had sobered up enough to write a couple good songs about drinking, and Ian Gillan and Tony Iommi apparently drank enough in research to put out an album called Born Again. With room for a couple more songs, they added Digital Bitch and Zero the Hero. If the internet, Twitter and TMZ had existed back then, this album would be remembered quite differently. Digital Bitch is all about Sharon Osbourne, and Zero the Hero is a less-than-loving snarl at Ozzy. “–As your heroes sit by the river, with the magic in their music as they eat raw liver…” The cover of Ozzy’s live album of Sabbath songs, Speak of the Devil,has him eating raw liver. In retrospect, what played as mysterious, bluesy songs of love gone wrong take on a bitch-slappy tone of spoiled rich drunks shit-talking each other.

When the opening notes of Born Again played, I remembered that it was my favorite song on the album. A power ballad about maturing, at least to me, it was the soundtrack to a couple years hard drinking in my early twenties. My father had just died, I was shiftless and without direction. These dark angels (and Neil Young) sang the only words that made sense. As I rode the bus I could feel my eyes puddling. Like a time lapse of my life, I saw sunshine peeking through drawn blinds in the many rooms I have lived in over the past forty years.

It was the first time in ages I felt an urge to drink. Not an undeniable urge; more a wistful reliving of a habit. I would usually have a couple shots of whiskey and a cigarette during this song. That would have been considered uncool on the bus, so I chose to forgo. I can do it another time if I choose.

By the time Keep It Warm played, I was cool. I missed the embrace of whiskey only for a minute, but it was amazing how a few notes could almost give me the shakes. When I got home after work, I put a burned CD version into the monster sound system from the younger days in the cabin. It still rattled the chest cavity, and during Disturbing the Priest the wall shook so much my Alf puppet fell off the mantle. Cool! The old girl can still spit out the bass.

Talk about understatement.

Headbanger's Ball

Headbanger’s Ball

Thwack! After I put Alf back and sat down, I felt a hard smash on top of my head.

The whole speaker had vibrated off the shelf, crashing to the floor and cutting my left kneecap along the way.

“Are you all right, Uncle Charlie?” My niece is no stranger to weird noises coming from my room, but this was stranger than usual and noticeable from two rooms away. I was grateful as she helped me reposition the speaker, and didn’t laugh as I put the bag of frozen peas on my temple. A knot is forming, and I may be coon-eyed tomorrow, but my pupils aren’t different sizes and any dizziness I feel could be attributed to the several bong hits I was taking as I reminisced about Mrs Crownover.

But maybe I’ll stick to streaming instead of CDs for now. Earbuds don’t hurt as much when they fall off the shelf.

Talk about a headbanger’s ball.

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1 Comment

  1. 2bee said,

    Very well written.
    Rolling Stone should hire you as a writer, seriously.
    Hear that Rolling Stone?
    */^insert web crawling spider bot bait here^\*

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