In 1976 an institution opened in Dundee which changed the way we youngsters found and owned our music. It was on the Perth Road and it became the holy grail of lost Saturday when I’d stopped going to football matches as they seemed to be getting increasingly aggressive and violent. Groucho’s was my haven. It was where I could eke out any alowance or spare pocket money and perhaps stretch what might have been, at best, an album buy in a ‘normal’ record shop into a couple of albums and the odd single or two. Second hand it was and it offered not only the chance to buy records but also the possibility to trade your old ones.
In Nashville many years later I came across Grimeys which appropriately only talked of pre loved records. They got it. In a perfect world no one trades any record in. But first Groucho’s. Here’s what happened: You went in and went through everything. The joy of the second-hand store is not knowing what has survived since the last visit. Was that double album you’d thought about still available? Would there be something that you couldn’t find elsewhwere? I had one glorious ‘find’ one afternoon in 1978. I found a copy of Bruce Cockburn’s Sunwheel Dance. An album, I was pretty correct in assuming, no one else in my world owned. I later discovered that the man who’d traded it had one of the best record collections in The Ferry – maybe the city. I was pretty sure he’d just downgraded his collection by letting that one go.
After the initial trawl there was the walk to the counter. Behind that was the inscrutable ‘Breeks Brodie’ – a man who knew the going rate of any piece of vinyl. It was Breeks who took the record out of the inner sleeve and checked it for scratches and pointed out why you were getting the thing for £1.45. (When I spoke to him today he told me that the top price for a Little Feat album was £1.80) He would, of course, do this on the way in too. If you were going to offset your old stuff for something new it was the scrutiny of Breeks you had to concern yourself with. Never easy I can assure you. He didn’t miss a scratch.
I bought Linda Ronstadt’s Don’t Cry Now…..here and it’s still in my collection. I thought of this as I read the sad news we won’t be hearing her voice singing anything new in the future. She talked this week of her diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease and how it has meant she will no longer sing. We’ll celebrate the music we still have of Linda’s – and there’s much to celebrate too. Great solo performances and many of my favourite moments which involve her collaborating with other people.
However before I move on from Groucho’s let me share some of their conversations from the ‘Dinna Ask’ section on their website:
Choice words from people ‘two tracks short of a single’.
C: Do you have Radiohead ‘In Rainbows’?
S: Sorry, we don’t currently have a copy in stock.
C: Do you know where I’d get it?
What other shops are there in town?
S: What about HMV?
C: How do you spell it?
On Friday we’ll also spend a good bit of time playing bluegrass. I think Bill Monroe’s name may come up a few times…..It’s a long story but I’ll tease with this photograph and say this: Noam Pikelny plays Kenny Baker plays Bill Monroe. You’ll like it, I know you will.
We’ll hear from Devon Sproule and Mike O’Neil and I may well cause you to think, ‘I do believe I love country music after all,’ because we’ll also be playing Charley Rich, Roddy Hart, Diana Jones and Dawes and it will all start at 8 on Friday evening on BBC Radio Scotland. Join me live if you can.
On my final Sunday for a couple of months I’ll spend the first hour talking to a man who was once seen as one of the top ten political/social commentators in the USA. Often a thorn in the flesh to the political establishment,these days he’s a an ally of Obama and a friend to some of our own political heavyweights. He’s more interested however in what’s in ‘The Common Good’ and his new book sets out ways in which divergent political and social traditions can find common cause. Jim Wallis was brought up in Detroit and now lives and works in Washington so we’ll get memories of his youth in Motor City and his understanding of being Evangelical which may surprise many of you who automatically assume they all come from the right.
We’ll discuss what happens when relatively peaceful countries descend into the chaos of civil war and if it’s possible that what has happened in Syria can happen anywhere. We’re also going to take a walk down the Great White Way. Sunday Morning goes to Broadway.…and again, it’s not what you might expect. Safe to say that the sound of St Malachy’s RC Church Bells playing ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’ may well make your day.
Are you interested in the Search For Intelligent Life? Is it possible not to be? What would it say about faith if we discovered we were not the only civilization in the Universe? We talk to Professor David Wilkinson who’s spent a good deal of time thinking and writing on the subject. Finally, as always , we play great music from Ramsay Lewis, Stevie Wonder, The Carpenters and Skee-Lo – yes that Skee-Lo. It all starts on Sunday morning from seven on BBC Radio Scotland.