Monday, March 13, 2006

Singles Scene # 3

Cambridge: Home base. Cambridge is made up of three sections, each once it's own entity, each with it's own areas and downtown's. Combined, Cambridge still amounts to three distinct sections that only just tolerate the political connection they share. I live in Hespeler, as far north as you can live in Cambridge and not be living in Guelph. As compared to the factory outlet mall in Galt, close to as Deep South as you can go and still be in Cambridge. At the same location is a fairly large antique market, called SouthWorks.

SouthWorks is one very large store, with a multitude of small stalls. Different vendors would put out 20 or 30 things, antiques and collectibles all, and the store staff would look after selling the merchandise. A sound plan and a store with lots of interesting stuff. The kids drag behind me, their interest taken up by the many spinning wheels. My daughter leads the interest in these old machines; her only knowledge of them stems from Disney's Sleeping Beauty thus, they frighten her. Or at least she feigns fright; I am never quite sure which. Either way, the many spinning wheels have their attentions while I focus on the prize: Canadian singles.

It is been a few years since I have been here but I know they have records, I can almost smell it; today there will be a find. You simply cannot have so much junk in one place and not have a Poppy Family 45. I find some 78's, not sure whether they are Canadian content or not and consider trying a few. However, I do not have a record player that will play 78's so instead I decide that is something I will have to keep my eyes open for. A little while later I find one, a portable unit made for playing 45's, but which will play 78's and 33's. At $35.00 it's a little rich for my blood. Some other place and some other day maybe I will get one, today I don't have much time and don't even bother examining the player closely.

Then I have a hit. I don't remember what drew my eye to this booth in the first place, something the boy noticed I think. As we came around a table there they were, hidden from view from the main aisle, but there notwithstanding. A small pile of albums and 45s. Three good sized stacks of 45's, maybe a hundred, hundred and fifty in total. And sitting on top? Canada, the Centennial song by Bobby Gimby and the Young Canada Singers; last month's near miss. Then I was willing to pay $5.00 for it. This month it is $3.00 and I'm thinking I go to two stores and find this song in both. Maybe $3.00 is a bit pricey. However, it comes in a good cardboard sleeve and should be considered a bit of a collectable. At least it would be a collectable if the stall owner hadn't put a sticker on it that will never come off without ripping the sleeve, knocking about $2.75 of the real value of the thing. Or am I just feeling cheap today? Either way I ignore the penny-pinching voice running in my head, and pick through the rest of the singles.

Considering there are three piles of records and each pile must be close to 50 records each, I have little luck finding much Canadian. Mostly, these songs are Motown and British invasion stuff, all definitely later 60's, maybe very early 70's. Towards the back of the second pile I find one more record, and that is all for Canadiana. But that record interests me: It's a very early Anne Murray record, A Stranger In My Place, from back when she was a country singer instead of soft pop. Sadly, the doofus who owns this boutique has gone sticker happy with his price stickers. I thought the ruination of the Canada cover was bad, but this sticker is stuck right on the record and doesn't look like it wants to come off. At $1.00, this record is overpriced, even before I find I am going to have to work hard just to make it playable. None the less I pick up my $4.00 worth of Canadiana and head to the cashier.

Getting the records home I decide to play Canada first for two reasons: First, I am dying to know if I remember this song correctly. Did some one actually make money with a song that has the line "One little, two little three Canadians" in it? The second reason is I figure it will take a while to get the sticker off and make Anne Murray playable. I fill the sink with cold, soapy water (remember kids, heat makes vinyl warp) and soak the record for a minute Meanwhile I put on the "Young Canada Singers" and there it is, the very first line:

One little
Two little
Three Canadians

I can't believe I am hearing this. I wonder what would offend Shill Copps more, the bit about "Little" Canadians, or the sheer triteness of the thing (Actually that's a rhetorical question: Triteness is the one and only thing that has never offended Sheila Copps.) Can you imagine the government subsidizing this in 2001? You can just hear the Organization for People of Lesser Height carping in the Star about the insult of it all. Unbelievably, the song seems to go down hill from there with the rest of the lyrics being unintelligible but clearly far too sappy.

Anne Murray cleans up nicely, with just a bit of scrubbing, a rinse and a towel down she's ready to be heard. I am not as a rule an Anne Murray fan, and this is not some great exception. None the less, it has Anne singing a country and western song (again, not my favorite) which is a style I think she is eminently suited too. I do like this better than what we have come to know Anne Murray for, the pop ballads such as You Needed Me or that stuff she sings on those CBC specials (I actually heard her doing Daydream Believer one day). It's typical Country, her man is gone and now a new, undeserving woman lies beneath him. Typical country but not typical Anne Murray. Written by Kenny Rogers and Kim Vassey, the label lists the song as from 1971's album "Straight, Clean and Simple", which I gather means Anne's singing style and not the status of any Anne Murray drug problem. And that is ultimately the best way to describe the song, straight, clean and simple: Anne Murray sings Loretta Lynne. Canadians sing American music. Which, when you get right down to it is the most Canadian thing you can do. No wonder the CBC loves Anne so much.

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