In My Life

The only person who likes change is a wet baby. Most people are resistant to change and yet, change is all around us. We get used to the eccentricities of our boss at work and then one day we find out that the boss is gone we are reporting to a new person. What happened to Alice? She was a wonderful boss. Who is the new guy? Already, I don’t like him!

In our personal lives, we are sad when a favorite restaurant closes. They had the best chicken dishes; where will I go now? After a seemingly short period of time, the family car breaks down and the expense of buying a new one is totally unexpected. Hate to have to go shopping for a car now. And fickle teenagers discard the “loves of their lives” as quickly as an Indianapolis 500 car rounds the track. Change is all around us.

The reality is that most of us deplore the concept of change. We get comfortable in our environment. We may not like all the people we work with, but they are they are part of our daytime family and for the most part, even though we grumble a bit, we make allowances for most of their perceived shortcomings. And yet, when they leave the workplace, we are upset to see them go and often unwelcoming of the new employee that takes their place. It’s all about change. I didn’t like Harry when he was here, but this new person makes me yearn for Harry to return.

My first job in the corporate world lasted twenty years. There were a number of times during that time span when I seriously entertained the thought of leaving the company. However, as enticing as some of the promises of better jobs offers were contemplated, I stayed on because I was comfortable there even with an imperfect environment. It’s the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t know that sometimes keeps people tethered to unhealthy situations in their personal and professional lives. Whether it’s a boss from hell, an in-law that has given money to help support your business venture or just an intolerable work situation, identifying the problem and welcoming the concept of change can be a cleansing agent to rid oneself of unpleasantness.

Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi is arguably one of the most successful artists in the history of the music business. I would guess that virtually every Jambands reader has at least one of his albums in their collections, has gone to see the group in concert or has seen them perform on television. The group has sold 21.8 Million albums in the U.S., has achieved 25 Hot 100 hits as certified by Billboard, of which there were 4 #1 singles, 5 #1 Albums and the last “Because We Can” tour in 2012/2013 grossed over $255M.

If I was establishing a new record company, Bon Jovi would be the first guy I would call on so as to make his band the cornerstone of my label. Given his success, I’d prepare a most favorable financial deal and whatever else he wants to entice him to work for my company.

In an age where we see professional athletes continually leave their teams, professional sports franchises leaving their cities for a seemingly better deal somewhere else, it is a rare employee that stays with the company through thick and thin while all the time producing results at the highest level of achievement. Throughout his career, Bon Jovi has remained with one record company, up until now.

Bon Jovi has been with Mercury Records for 32 years. He has just recorded his 13th and final album for the company. It is fittingly called “Burning Bridges.” Yikes! What happened? Whatever the reason, Jon felt compelled to leave the label. In a statement from Mercury, they wished him well and used all the usual stock corporate adjectives to thank him. In many cases, a separation of long-standing parties occurs due to monetary differences. Whatever the reason(s), Jon has just fulfilled his contractual obligation to Mercury and he is now free to make whatever deal he can. Change will be very very good for Bon Jovi both professionally and financially.

Rainbow Records

Those of us who enjoy rummaging through boxes and bins of vinyl are always on the lookout for new sources to buy recorded pleasures. Many of the used music stores who were primarily devoted to vinyl, now proudly stock collections of CD’s, as well. Whether it’s an LP, 45, CD, cassette, etc., most stores present their merchandise in some kind of order so as to assist the purchaser in finding the music that is wanted.

I have spent the last 50 years of my life visiting music stores throughout the world. Perhaps, the best organized store that I’ve visited is the Record Exchange in Boise, Idaho. The store is light and airy. LP’s are neatly arranged, CD’s are in alphabetical order, T-shirts are hung in easy to find racks and the store even sponsors live concerts there. Visiting Record Exchange is a great musical buying experience. They make it easy for you to spend money on their merchandise.

A number of years ago, I had the pleasure to stumble upon Rainbow Music, a used CD store in the East Village in New York City. While the Record Exchange in Boise is wide, Rainbow is narrow in size. While there is significant rhyme and reason to the way Record Exchange displays their CD’s, Rainbow seemingly has no particular system of finding anything other than the CD’s that stand out directly before your eye.

In a recent New York Times article about Rainbow, the writer describes the appearance of the store as the” Grand Canyon of CD’s.” How true! However, the chief difference between Rainbow and every other used record that I have ever been in wrests with one overriding fact that makes going to Rainbow the most pleasant experience of all, and that is the owner of the shop, referred to as “Birdman.”

From behind a fortress of CD’s, you can hear the Birdman respond to your requests. “I’m looking for an album by Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps” you may say. Birdman will eventually appear and in the narrow gap that passes for an aisle (the only one) you can watch Birdman, with ladder in hand as he ascends and descends to find you multiple copies of the albums by Gene Vincent. He’ll tell you that he just sold the “Bluejean Bop” album that Vincent originally recorded in 1956, but with the other albums in hand; you have a pretty good representation of the music that you’re seeking. Birdman is an incredible person. It’s worth the trip just to interact with him. Jazz, blues, rock, it’s all there and Birdman will most definitely find what you’re looking for. Of course, if you’re a brave soul and decide to seek CD’s on your own, you may risk an avalanche of falling CD’s on your head if you’re not careful. “Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware.”

Birdman is why guys like me actively seek out used music stores. The selection of music is usually incredible in those stores. He loves the music as much as I do and likes to talk about it and even suggest CD’s that you never knew existed. No slight intended, but guys like Birdman are not 20+ year old young clerks behind the counter whose music knowledge is somewhat limited to everything from 1980 to the present. Half the fun of going to these stores is the conversation with the staff. I will always remember visiting Bill’s Records in Dallas and aside from getting some cool 45’s there, my conversation with Bill was well worth the visit. People like Bill and the Birdman are fading from our landscape. They are a part of an Americana that is getting swallowed up by faceless shopping malls populated by dull cookie cutter stores. It’s a change that I am not happy to see.

Sadly, change has come to Rainbow Music. For the past 17 years, Birdman has single-handedly operated this store and as he says, “I’m tired.” Change has come to Rainbow Music as he retires from this business.

The great Buddy Miles in his signature song, “Them Changes” has a classic line in the song that says, “Well, my mind is goin’ through them changes…” My mind is also goin’ through them changes, and I know Bon Jovi will fare quite well. I think Rainbow will also be alright if the paradigm is now to sell online, but with the end visiting Rainbow Music, that’s not a change that I like.