My first “official” introduction to Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor (outside a small font credit to a sample used on the Beastie Boys’ Ill Communication), was this $4 purchase from good ol’ Half Price Books, 1977’s Richard Pryor’s Greatest Hits. I knew little to nothing of the man prior (or should I say Pryor… no) to this album, forgetting completely that this was the same Wonder Wheel-wielding genius from the slightly racist The Toy film (1982), so let me put it lightly by stating that my feeble mind was completely blown into some previously unknown realm of human consciousness upon first spin. Everyone I knew who cared to listen heard this album, with a slightly obnoxious and giddy introduction by me, and to this day, Richard Pryor’s Greatest Hits is still, by far, one of my all-time favorite records. It doesn’t hurt that it was probably one of my first 20 records purchased, but the content certainly (and quite vulgarly… let’s say “honestly”) speaks for itself.
The Best of Wayne Newton Live was one of the first 20 or so records I’ve ever owned (somewhat mystifying now, if you think about it), and it opened the door for many other exceedingly entertaining records released by Mr. Las Vegas to join the collection.
Acquired for roughly $3.98 from a Madison, WI Half Price Books back in 1997, this album got frequent spins during my first semester of college, and remains a critical part of those early collecting days. I distinctly remember listening mainly to the b-side, which consists of three medleys. This is only notable since the a-side contains Newton-ized versions of Live and Let Die, Hard to Handle, You’ve Got a Friend, and (Take Me Home) Country Roads. But the b-side included 45 seconds of Danke Schone, so there you go. For reasons that escape me, the track that stands out the most, some 17 years later, is Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast. I have no idea why this song hit me at the tender age of 18, but, I suppose, some mysteries are better left unsolved.
Sometimes you visit family and friends in the wooded, open-air state in which you grew up. Sometimes you cry from laughing so hard, you wear stocking hats in the early afternoon, you run the same route you did in High School Cross-Country, and sometimes you eat a whole, 1/3 box of Honey Maid graham crackers in one sitting.
Sometimes you throw away tiny mementos of your childhood to make room for tiny mementos of your adulthood, you discover a workman’s jacket your grandfather used to wear, you weave and dodge deer crossing rural roads at night, you attempt to snap pictures of the house cat chasing a chipmunk from the kitchen to the dining room and back, while your parents scurry from room to room attempting to get the poor zoo creature out of the house, you enjoy a severe thunderstorm, you visit your grandmother’s new apartment, you adjust to the idea of your grandmother living in an apartment, you drink countless, hearty cocktails, and eat at all your favorite restaurants that Los Angeles reluctantly ignores.
Sometimes you visit Half Price Books and find the soundtrack to Fellini’s 8 ½ for $2.99, you get your picture taken with your favorite MLB mascot, you delightfully peruse your parents’ record collection, you laugh ad nauseam with friends you haven’t seen in nearly 8 years, you play with cats, and you create new memories with which to bring up and enjoy in the future.
Sometimes you play Atari and drink Wisconsin’s finest beer with your girlfriend while laughing hysterically, you enjoy a bucket of balls at the driving range with your father, you play games at the kitchen table and your mother adorably invents a number of priceless one-liners, you build a bonfire, you visit the lake in which you learned to swim, and you wonder why you don’t visit more often.
Sometimes… it’s good to go home.
No. 2) You have the right to food money, providing of course, you don’t mind a little investigation, humiliation and if you cross your fingers, rehabilitation.
No. 3) You have the right to free speech (as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it).
These rights, as described by the late, the prolific, the prophet, Mr. Joe Strummer, are your responsibility to learn and digest. It is of the utmost importance that you educate (and mentally set free) your immediate family, coworkers, daycare professionals, gas station attendants, hot air balloon operators, garbage disposal fixers, and sad children with orange-tinted hair. These rights need to be understood, as I imagine Mr. Strummer would have wanted it that way.
For good measure, I’ve offered a little insight into my obsessive-compulsive nature. Apparently, on Thursday evening in late July, back in 1997, I felt it was a good idea to preserve the receipt to my purchased copy of Combat Rock. $3.98! The Clash were the soundtrack to that, the first summer out of 1) high school and 2) my parents’ home. The Clash were, and will always be, at least for me, a monumental symbol of freedom. It sounds just as gigantic and paradisiacal today as it did over 16 years ago.
Know your rights.