Stereogum Release of “Swim” Listen while you read…won’t you?
So my youngest son Sam has always been a creative type. My brother Rushton taught himself to play guitar, he taught me how to play and I in turn taught Sam. He was a quick learner and in particular mastered the “barre chord” very early on. The barre chord is the first big hurdle a new guitar player must hurdle. Sam was quick to play Beatle stuff and then began writing his own music. The Huckelberry series for a report in High School comes to mind. He did a report on Twain’s Huckelberry Finn in The Who fashion of doing Tommy. He recorded it and made a tape of it for the report but the teacher declined it. We thought it was very clever. He had a song he’d play for us called “Smooth Sunday” and it was about sitting around after church on the porch playing with the dogs. It was a catchy tune that I can whistle to this day, but the minute I started whistling it with regularity he stopped playing it. I guess he thought at the time, he was middle school age, I was making fun of him. Since then he is careful about what he lets me hear. For the life of me, he would not play a song if I requested it. What was that about? I have a friend who is a good joke teller, but if you tell him to repeat a joke he won’t do it. Maybe it’s about creative license or timing. Sam got to be funny that way in high school. He has come out of that a bit recently.
So today is his birthday and he is in Brooklyn, New York. He is doing a music thing and an EP of two songs of an album his band Sunglasses is to be released in a couple of weeks. Above is one of the songs for your listening pleasure. If you know someone who is looking for a good song for a commercial, let me know. He has a hundred of them.
So the story for today and Sam’s birthday:
When Sam was in 8th grade or so I ‘d pick him up at school and take him to drum lessons (he picked up playing the drums faster than the guitar or piano) at a place on the square in Gainesville, Ga called ProMusic. It was on the corner of the square and had been something like a furniture store, easily 5,000 sq. ft. with an upstairs and downstairs. Sam would go down stairs to take the lessons. While he took his thirty minute lesion I’d look around up stairs and find something to buy. Harmonicas, harmonica books, videos on famous Beatle riffs, guitar strings, Brian Setzer chord books, and on and on. I bought something every week. Sam would finish his lesion and I’d settle up at the register and then off we’d go to the Collegiate for French fries and a chocolate milk shake. We did it for about a year or so. I gained about 10 lbs. because of it. We loved it…well that was until I had a bit of a run in with the owner of ProMusic.
On this particular day Sam had come up from his drum lesson. He had his drum sticks and the little triangle wood block with the little rubber mat on it which were as usual very promptly transferred to me to hold while he went about the show room floor looking at the different guitars, drums and all that heavenly music stuff. On this day the decides to try out a set of drums and before sitting down takes back his drum sticks and begins banging about. I am looking at a Neil Young chord book when I hear one of the owners speaking to Sam.
“Hey kid, get off the drums!” The tone of his voice and manner in which he said it I thought upset Sam. The way I saw it he was in heaven, happy, creative, exploring and I was enjoying the little beat he had going. Actually feeling that I was glad I was there with him and what a wonderful place with all this music candy and all tied into the Collegiate and his taking lessons improving his skills until this guy says something rude to destroy it. I look around the store. We are the only ones there and I have been there every Thursday for a year and supporting the store.
“Hey, you don’t have to speak to him that way. He is just practicing what ya’ll have just taught him.”
“Get him off the drums. They are not to played by kids roaming through the store.”
I couldn’t believe it. I was livid, it jumped all over me.
“Are you kidding me? He can’t play the drums? Are you trying to sell them? How will you sell them if you can’t play them?”
“Get off the drums,” he says as he motions toward Sam to give him the drumsticks.
What then happens is something I am not proud of but will relate. I say to the guy, “Look around you. Do you see other customers? Do you see other people here that might buy something? We represent business to you.”
“I don’t have to listen to this,” he says. “Why don’t you just leave?”
“This is no way to run a business and by looking around I can see you have no clue about business and customer service. I have spent thousands of dollars here over the last year and I am here every Thursday and my son takes lessons in drums and is a potential person to buy the drums you say he can’t play. You don’t know what the hell you’re doing.”
“Get out of my store.”
“I’ll get out but know this. I won’t be back and my son will get his drum lessons somewhere else and I’ll never by another product here. And by the way you have way too much space here, too much inventory for so little a customer base.”
So me and Sam and the drum sticks and the little triangle of wood with a rubber pad on it leave the store and I feel as if my head will blow off.
By the time I get to the car with my 12 year old or son I am already thinking about something my mother told me at my little brother’s wedding. (My brother started perspiring so much that by the time I gave him his ring he was blowing sweat by pouching out his lower lip expelling air, much like the shoo gnats in south Georgia. I laughed by snorting saliva through my nose throughout the entire wedding. I’d stop then see him sweating and die. After the ceremony my mother said, “John that was so embarrassing. You’re the doctor for Christ sake!”)
“Sam I am sorry about that and the way I acted back there. I guess we won’t be going back to ProMusic anytime soon.”
Sam looked up at me and said, “Speak for yourself. I didn’t do anything.”