The Day My Records Came To Life
Maybe I was a bit delirious when it all happened. After all, I did have a nasty case of the flu, which, between vomiting in a bedside bucket and moaning, can make anyone hallucinate. And I did happen to watch the movie Toy Story about six times in a row — mainly because it was the only DVD in the player and I had no energy to change it. Or maybe my records defied all laws of physics and common sense and magically came to life ala the very movie that I had been watching.
Whatever way it happened, this much I can say for sure: The quarrel began when the Clash’s debut album began mocking the band’s last effort, Cut the Crap. Normally these records would have never been placed together on the shelf, but before I got sick I spent a perfectly good Thursday evening drinking beer and listening to all my Clash albums. However, I have two copies of the first record (both the UK and US versions) and the US version remained on the shelf where it picked a fight with poor old Cut the Crap, a record whose sheer shittiness permanently affixed it to the storage unit. And though I didn’t really appreciate the bedlam, it made sense that the fight occurred: When the Clash recorded its first record, the band members were in their 20s and full of youthful exuberance. On Cut the Crap, only two original members remained, they were in their 30s, and they wrote a really shitty album. It was only natural for the younger Clash to ruthlessly mock the elder incarnation.
Because I was in such a miserable state, it didn’t dawn on me that the sudden consciousness of my record collection was anything out of the ordinary. But it didn’t take me long to fully grasp what was happening: Apparently while I was groaning and adding to my vomit bucket during the repeated showings of Toy Story, my albums found inspiration in toys that came to life in their owner’s absence. And since they knew I was bedridden and out of my head, they figured they would try it out.
As if inspired by the Clash argument, Rancid’s first record shouted across a few albums to taunt its recent piece of shit, Trouble Maker. NOFX’s Punk in Drublic lambasted Liberal Animation for being a terrible first album. And the ‘80s SNFU hardly recognized the ‘90s SNFU (especially Something Big and Leafy This Way Comes), and both SNFUs thought Never Trouble Trouble Until Trouble Troubles You was essentially dispensable to its catalogue.
On a positive note, the first Ramones record high-fived Brain Drain for keeping it real after all those years. Iggy Pop was equally enamored with himself as a solo artist and as the Stooges front man. And all of the Nomeansno albums complemented themselves on how fantastic, if not under-appreciated, they were.
Amid all the in-fighting and self-congratulations between band records, certain albums began speaking up for other reasons. The Frank Zappa’s You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore was sick of being stuck between Youth Brigade and the Zounds, repeatedly claiming it belonged next to Coltrane Jazz. However, the latter record was busy petitioning for a specific jazz section so it could hang out with the Dizzy Gelespie, Miles Davis, and Louis Armstrong recordings; it neglected to mention anything Zappa-related. Similarly, Jimmy Cliff and Toots and the Maytals expressed their desire for a reggae division since the discrepancies in their names kept them too far apart in the main collection to smoke the ganja together. The Strike Anywhere LPs condemned segregation of any kind only to be called a disparaging name by NWA’s Straight Outta Compton — a name the author of this story feels too white to repeat. While almost all the records objected to NWA’s comment, only one LP spoke up.
“Don’t talk to those Strike Anywhere records like that,” said Arcade Fire’s Funeral. “They don’t mean any harm.”
“Aw, shut up, ya damn Canadians,” responded NWA. “Fuck all y’all.”
“This is crazy!” M.I.A.’s Kaya blurted out, “What the hell am I even doing here with all of you?”
“Get used to being out of place,” said the Beach Boys recordings.
“Hold on,” said Slim Cessna’s Auto Club’s Always Say Please and Thank You. “We should all be grateful to be here.”
“Go to hell,” sung the Beach Boys albums in a harmonization typical of the group’s recordings.
“Enough!” shouted Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison over the commotion. And at the sound of the Man in Black’s voice, a deathly silence fell over the collection. “We’re all records here,” the multi-platinum selling album continued. “And we should act like records, damn it. We’re here to entertain and enhance the life of whoever listens to us. That’s why we were purchased and filed away in the first place.”
“We also make him think,” said Subhumans’ The Day the Country Died.
“That’s what it’s all about,” said all the Dead Kennedys albums.
Aside from a few sporadic jeers from the Sex Pistols record and a convoluted poem slurred by the Doors albums, the collection was relatively silent in its own contemplation.
“At Folsom Prison is right, you know,” I told my records. “Aside from a few of you that I only listened to once, you’re a good collection.”
My LPs looked at me wide-eyed in stunned silence, as if I had just caught them stealing money from the collection basket at church. They didn’t know I was conscious. Accordingly, they straightened up and attempted to act as though nothing was amiss, just like kids in class.
After that I got dizzy, added a considerable amount to my vomit bucket, and fell asleep. When I awoke, the records never made another peep unless I put them on the turntable.
[Pictured: animation by Nate Stone]