Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Ink Spots

Greatest Hits

The Greatest hits

The Centennial Library is located nowhere in the world. It is a figment of my imagination. Not so the William Avenue Library, which was, until, it seems, 1977, the main branch of the Winnipeg Public Library. The William Avenue branch was old and dusty and the aisles were narrow, and the place was venerable. It had a mystique that was missing from its replacement, which was called the Centennial Library and which was built in the middle of downtown, next to Eaton Place, across from Trinity Anglican Church on Graham.

The Centennial Library was modern and modern looking. It was ok. It was a great place to stop on the way home from work, or during lunch break if I happened to be downtown, and I suppose I must have read thousands of pages of books that I borrowed from there.

Now when I left the city they had a decent CD collection, and still a few cassette tapes left, but I remember the days of LPs, not all that long ago, and the odd thing was that at some point in its history, they changed their cataloguing system, but what they did was this. The LPs under the old system stayed under the old system, and the LPs under the new system were under the new system, which categorized them by style, type, and artist, which is what you’d expect.

The old ones, though, were numbered sequentially by the order in which they were added to the collection. Which means that the only way to find something was to look in the index card catalogue. But the fun part was browsing through the old shelves, where you’d find a Brahms Cello Sonata next to The Byrds next to Stockhausen next to Charles Mingus. I could spend hours looking through those shelves, days even, until the librarian would tell me nicely to go home and get something to eat.

Look it up online; it doesn’t exist. What does exist, and didn’t use to, is the *Millenium* library. It’s apparently in the exact same place as the Centennial Library used to be, but it’s completely renovated. Well, in the words of Beavis and Butthead (one of them, I guess) “the more things change, the more they suck.”

Anyway I got the Ink Spots there. I used to have the double LP, but I trashed that, decided I didn’t need The Ink Spots in my collection, but I guess I need them after all. I’m not so close to this music really; it’s very old (these songs are from the 40’s mostly), and silly. And it’s very stylized. Bill Kenny sings so high he makes Clyde McPhatter sound like Johnny Cash. And Hoppy Jones sings so low that he makes Johnny Cash sound like… Clyde McPhatter!! Several of these songs went on to become hits for the Platters ("If I Didn’t Care", "To Each His Own", and especially "My Prayer"), I have a version of "When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano" by Pat Boone, that’s exciting, and one of "We Three" by Brenda Lee, and that rhymes.

(And There’s a song called “The Gypsy” which is not the Gordon Lightfoot song, but it never ceases to amaze me how many songs there are about Gyspies, so often with “gypsy” in the title – Lou Christie did “The Gypsy Cried,” The Impressions did “Gypsy Woman,” Van Morrison did “Gypsy” and then there’s Lightfoot. They’d never get away with any other ethnic designation – The Jew? The Negro Cried? American Woman? oops scratch that)

"Java Jive" is a bit different; for what it’s worth, it was covered by Manhattan Transfer.

I like coffee, I like tea…

The Ink Spots:

  • If I Didn't Care

  • Addresss Unknown

  • My Prayer

  • When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano

  • Whispering Grass (Don't Tell The Trees)

  • Maybe

  • I'll Never Smile Again

  • We Three (My Echo, My Shadow, And Me)

  • Java Jive

  • I Dont Want To Set The World On Fire

  • Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat

  • The Gypsy

  • Street Of Dreams

  • I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)

  • To Each His Own

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