B-Side, Myself


Just to be different, since I was the invisible boy, remarkably unremarkable in almost every way save one: I spent much of my childhood as a moving bookmark, my nose wedged between the pages even as I walked the book home from the library. But I was looking to stand out just a little from within the covers, as well as from beneath them.

So when I’d scrape together enough nickels and quarters, I’d stop at the Woolworth’s on the way home from the library and buy one of the newer 45 rpm discs of someday classic pop and rock. Once home, I’d put it on the Motorola and become a bookmark lying between the two speakers — each pressed to a corresponding ear — and play the B-side over and over and over.

I’d learn that tune until I could whistle every bass line and guitar fill and listeners on the street (and in the house) would think I thweeted seemingly dissonant passages “God Only Knows” when the other kids moved to the transistor or jukebox that spoon-fed them “Wouldn’t it Nice?”. And I felt better because I knew “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better,” when all everyone else really wanted to hear was “All I Really Want to Do.”

Things haven’t changed too much since then. I was the Deep Cut guy, the cut-out bin diver, for the LPs in college, the listener to the unknown songwriter/bar band who someday came to rule the CD and radio charts. (Where we’d part company.)

These days, when they count overnight downloads in the millions, you’ll hear me whistle the harmony parts of Jason Isbell’s “24 Frames” or Over the Rhine’s “All I Want Is Everything.” It’s okay. I don’t get beside myself when you tell me to learn to carry a tune. I’ll always be that guy, not beside myself over your packaged, promoted and programmed brickbats.

Just B-Side, myself. Period.


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