the cut-outs

I have a lot of old vinyl records stored on shelves in the basement.

I don’t play them anymore…I may when all the children are grown, I’m not really sure, though.

I used to try and play them when my oldest two children were little…but something about the needles on the turntable fascinated my son and he kept rubbing them off.

So I stopped listening to the old vinyl and put the broken turntables away.

This isn’t really about broken turntables, though.

I used to buy a lot of records that were “cut-outs”.

I was too cheap to spend the five dollars it probably would have cost to buy something really good, so I’d buy these albums that people in the industry had given up on and had marked way down.

They were called cut-outs because they had a notch cut out of one of the sides to denote that they were rejects and should be marked way down.

So my collection has a lot of strange stuff in it.

One of the guys I discovered in the cut-out bin was this guy, Billy Mernit.

I bought a sampler album that had a bunch of artists that the record company was trying to “break”…that they were trying to make popular…and he was one of the artists on the album.

The song on the album was one called “Special Delivery”.

special deliveryI later found the full album in a thrift store.

“Most people don’t believe in what they cannot see, but there’s more to living than photography,  all the invisible threads that we need, think of electricity”.

I think this guy is writing books about screenwriting now…maybe teaching, I don’t remember.

But in 1973, he was doing music.

That’s a typical teenage ploy, to pick something so obscure to champion that nobody else can compete.

Who ever heard of Billy Mernit?

He was just another cut-out.

He was another somebody who was really talented… buried in the grooves of an old album.

But I loved and love this song.  I play it for people now and they say that it sounds kind of dated, that they don’t like the way it sounds, but for a while it circulated up in my brain like any of the best songs by McCartney or James Taylor.

It was a cut-out that made it to my mental “heavy rotation”.

There’s so much music now that we have access to that’s easy to come by.

I found this song on YouTube.

You can find what you’re looking for pretty easily now.

But it doesn’t compare with the thrill of finding something obscure in the cut-out bins.

Sometimes something that’s easy isn’t valued quite as much as something you have to work for.

Clicking a mouse isn’t as tactile as touching a bunch of 12″ square pieces of shrink-wrapped cardboard.

It doesn’t compare with sorting through thousands of records and finding one or two that might have something about them that sparks your curiosity and you take it home and it’s actually good.

That was a small victory if taking a chance on a cut-out actually paid off and the record was good.

I love music.  I’ve invested a lot of time in enjoying music.

Haunting the cut-out bins was a big part of it all.


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