The Blues Ain’t Nothin’ but
In December 1968 I worked in Dobells
Blues Record Shop down the Charing Cross Road. I wanted to avoid my Dad’s holiday
moans about my long hair but also I was a fanatical Blues convert.
|Even I couldn't get between Muddy and his fans|
Dobell’s was run by a cheery geezer called Ray. I don’t know why he took me on. Maybe he thought I’d attract the long-haired bespectacled stoned skinny white hippy student geek demographic. Maybe he thought I’d chase everyone into the Jazz Shop next door where he worked.
It was like an alcoholic being put to work in a distillery. I spent hours listening to “Muddy Waters at Newport” on the headphones in the booth as the queue built up. I’d dash to the counter.
Irritated shopper: “Have you got ‘Muddy Waters at Newport?’”
“Yeah, er, this one copy left…”
“It looks scratched.”
Picky bastard, I thought. At least it had been wrecked by a genuine Blues fan.
I’d then have a hazy debate with shopper No. 2 about whether harmonicas are more expressive than guitars, as the queue grew longer.
Sometimes I’d put the wrong LP into the sleeve for someone and they’d come back the next day.
“Look, I asked for Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘The Real Folk Blues’”
“Oh, sorry…. er, can’t find it on the shelf.”
“That’s because you’ve been playing it in the booth.”
When people asked a serious question like “Do you have Sleepy John Estes’ 1935 Brunswick Sessions with Hammie Nixon?” I’d stare at them blankly. Just because I was a fanatic didn’t mean I knew anything.
After three weeks I finally went home to a futile argument with my Dad. But I’d had a rich education in music and Ray one in hippy students.
All this is relevant. The news is full of the death of High Street shops. People are buying online and are jaded with the store experience.
At last I have a footnote in history. Because, you see, it was me who started the trend.