That Avalon Ballroom back in '69 ...

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, November 7, 2007 10:34am | Post a Comment
I remember the day Dave Prinz, one of the owners of Amoeba, came running into the office of the Haight Street store in San Francisco. Dude wasn't walking: he was floating. He was beaming, bouncing and dancing. He was pretty much out of his mind with the happy.

"You have got to hear this,"  he said as he reached for the office boom-box. Maybe he would've said that to anyone who was standing there, I have to grant his excitement that much. Cause the dude was on Cloud 9 and the fact that he even saw me standing there is a miracle, but I'll take it as he knew what all this would mean to me.

"This is it, this is the goods," he said as he prepped the CD player, and I knew exactly what he was talking about: the Gram, the live Gram Parsons that no one had ever heard before. He'd finally gotten it on the CDs to bring in and show us all that he wasn't nuts: this was GOLD. Hell, this is platinum. (industry joke, sorry.)

Man, that day was a long time ago. It was a damn long time ago, what with everything that happens in everyone's lives? You know how long a year or two feels. But there I was, last night, finally: I had my copy, I was reading the liner notes, and at first I was laughing, thinking "Dave! You left out the part where you talked about this record every day since then!! Every day!"

But that's the beautiful thing: when anyone is that much of a fan ... and we all knew how much of a fan Dave is before he ever got to go over to that magical place: Bear's Vault. (Forgive me, at 39, I am practically an old fogey to most of you and a lifelong Deadhead.) That much of a fan you can forgive almost anything. (Almost = Hinckley, Jr.)

So, all of these things happened, and who the hell would've thought all those years ago, that I would be holding an Amoeba Records release in my hands. Almost ten years ago, I was digging in the understock of the Berkeley store, up-stocking as best I could. I ran around the Hollywood store until they sent me home to work in SF. It never occurred to me in all that time that some night in the future, I'd have my own grey hairs, my own crow's feet, and I'd be holding a record as pure and historically important as Live At The Avalon Ballroom 1969, crying.

This record has some sad songs on it, and to hear that voice, his voice, turning them into tender gold, did me in. Just tears me up. "We've Got To Get Ourselves Together, " and "You're Still On My Mind" are about all this heart can take today. But both CDs in their entirety, are still on repeat, and will be all day. The hell with what my heart can take.

If you think this is some Amoeba butt-kiss ode to the Big Boss: just consider the amount of teasing I'll get for this blog from everyone else, trust me: it aint that. Damn record has me all turned around.

It takes a whole damn lot to make me cry, and usually it's The Blues or Diamanda Galas that leaves me in pieces. But we all know that country and folk can rip a special hole in a person's heart. It can also fill that hole.

                         - Brady

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Amoeba Records (5), Live At The Avalon Ballroom 1969 (1), Gram Parsons (7)