I was never a record collector. I'm still not. I just accumulate this junk. However, I did start digging records at an early age. While the grown-ups were in the living room getting sloshed to Allan Sherman and Broadway show tune LPs, I was holed up in the bedroom, barely out of the crib and spinning my favorite 78s ad nauseam. It was the dawn of my existence and already there was some useless flotsam that I was obsessing over. One of the flotsams in question was a Clancy Brothers LP that made me lose it every time. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem: A Spontaneous Performance Recording! Oh man, did that float my toy boat. I quickly wore out the grooves on the first track on Side B--a cut called Tim Finnegan's Wake. It was all about this guy that was so drunk that his pals thought that he was dead and at his wake he sat up and asked for more booze. Don't know why this tale resonated so strongly with me, but I needed to hear that Clancys number at least fifty times a day. Even at two years of age, the hereafter via a dumb novelty song weighed heavily upon my soft baby head.
For reasons unknown, I was also enamored with a live Pete Seeger LP. It was an ugly looking Folkways record, abysmally recorded in a dank MacDougal Street club. It was OK, but no Tim Finnegan's Wake. I would have more run-ins with Mr. Seeger in the following years--tossing my cookies on his boat on a sixth grade field trip and more notably, decades later standing in line behind him in a sleazy Times Square bodega. Pete impressed the locals when he approached the counter and betraying an unbridled enthusiasm, loudly chirped out his order: "I'll Have A Slice of Banana Bread and a Gooooooolden Delicious Apple!!" While his plinkety-plunk banjo music does nothing for me now, I gotta admit that he's a swell guy and anyone who's that happy in a bodega deserves to live forever.
I don't know why they were still selling 78s in the sixties but I guess because of squirts like me there was a market for them. In step with his insidious scheme, Walt Disney secured a lock on the Peter Pan kiddie record racket and he pimped out his insipid mess to pee-wee's everywhere. My bag at the time was sitting in a large cardboard box and watching the Mickey Mouse Club, so the Disney people definitely had my number. Subsequently, a couple of songs from Dumbo the motion picture grabbed my attention and a disturbing tale about a little red schoolhouse had me appropriately terrified of the first grade. Not sure if Disney had anything to do with this, but the Peter Pan 78 Squee Gee (The Happy Little Clown) found its way into my record collection. It wasn't long before Squee Gee and his idiotic theme song solidly possessed all the chambers of my fragile, unblemished coconut. Allegedly flitting about like a careless ne'er do-well, the enigmatic Squee Gee was ascribed the ability to make each day a holiday and I wasn't the doubting type. Squee Gee had his line of jive down tight and who was I to question his upside-down pinwheeled logic? They were starting early--these messianic Manson wannabes in their clown whites and ice cream cone hats. I inspected the grooves of the record and spun it incessantly. That's when I knew that I would either have to kill Squee Gee or be Squee Gee.