The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

24 February 2003

A little traveling music, Sergei

It's somewhere between Then and Now, though closer to Then, and I'm in the sort of record store we don't have anymore, the sort where John Cusack and Jack Black are running things. And I've just made some unfortunate comment about ordering some classical item by mail, which should give you some idea about how long ago this was.

"Why do that? We can get you anything in Schwann," said Cusack.

Well, okay, that sounded like an offer, and I have to admit I was sort of skeptical; I mean, these guys were specialists, and classical music wasn't their specialty — as close as they got, so far as I knew, was that vaguely-Wagnerian noise from Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. Still, throwing business to your friends is the American way, and so I decided to give them the order: the 3-LP box (circa 1975) of Vladimir Ashkenazy's recordings of the Prokofiev piano concerti (London CSA 2314) with André Previn conducting the LSO.

John was as good as his word, and he called me the next weekend to let me know the set had arrived. I didn't even razz him for mispronouncing "Prokofiev". (A weekend or two later, I stumbled over "Penderecki", which surely proves something.) And I played these things endlessly; in fact, in 1982, I peeled off ten bucks more for a cassette copy of the Third and the Fourth from this very set so I could schlep it along in the car. (I didn't get around to buying a really good tape deck until the following year.)

I still have that tape; it squeaks a bit during fast-wind, which suggests that it's probably not long for this world, but twenty-one years isn't at all bad for a commercial-grade (read: cheap) cassette, and it still sounds pretty decent — though not as good as the CD reissue (London 452 588-2, two CDs), which showed up at my doorstep this weekend. It's not ideally configured, what with my two favorites on two different discs, but I can live with it.

Posted at 8:48 PM to Tongue and Groove


I have only one question. What does it mean when I'm reading your commentaries on the traveling music, and I have to reread the paragraph with the words "tape deck" because the first time I read it I read "duct tape"?

I know, I know, get to work.

Posted by: V. at 5:18 AM on 25 February 2003

The only connection I can see here is that the car I was driving in those days was a '75 Toyota Celica, and after one particularly unspeakable incident, I found myself attempting to reattach the exhaust manifold with duct tape.

This actually didn't fail as spectacularly as it should have.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:05 AM on 25 February 2003

Now, if that had been a '71 Chevy Vega, the duct tape would have been what the auto mechanics call "over-repair" -- as in, ten times superior to the fastener it replaced.

Posted by: Kevin McGehee at 10:22 AM on 25 February 2003

Just for the hell of it, a bit from The Vent #260:

It may be hard to believe sometimes — I know I find it very difficult for about 49 hours a week, 49 weeks a year — but most people do not actually set out to do things in a half-assed manner. At least, I don't think they do.

David E. Davis, Jr., last seen as the Editor Emeritus of Automobile magazine, worked on the ill-fated Chevrolet Vega project alongside the late GM stalwart Frank Winchell, and after the car was sent to the junkyard of history, Winchell told Davis basically the same thing. "That was the best bunch of guys I ever worked with," he said, "some of the brightest people I knew, and that still turned out to be the worst car we ever built. Not once do I remember any one of those individuals coming into the room yelling, 'Hey, you guys! I got it! Here's what we're gonna do! We're gonna build a really shitty little car!'"

Posted by: CGHill at 10:37 AM on 25 February 2003

And their record stood, until the Yugo.

Posted by: Kevin McGehee at 3:07 PM on 25 February 2003