On The Bus

You’re sat on the bus. Buzzing, absolutely buzzing. The feeling tends to be few and far between at times. Too many disappointed trips to record shops and clothes shops around town. It isn’t easy to be pleased when you’re so discerning, as you now know all too well. Everyone else can buy their mass produced music, clothes and beer if it makes them happy. That isn’t you, it’s never been.

Fred Perry, Ben Sherman, London Pride, Trojan Records. These are the sort of things of importance. It all changed not that long ago, but it now feels like an eternity. It’s hard to imagine your life lived any other way. How does everyone else do it? The radio is only good for a headache at this point, but everyone else seems to just lap it out. No matter, your moving forward, moving on, not dwelling on anyone else’s life.

It was the same trip you’ve made hundreds of times in this city. Ever since a fortuitous trip to a bigger city, one with (gasp!) a store specializing in reggae and soul. Ever since you’ve got back home it’s been fruitless journey after fruitless journey, returning home once more empty handed. Flipping through LP after LP in what passes for a “reggae” section here.

It’s become a bit of a tradition at this point. Wake up, get yourself sorted out. Shower, shave, best pair of Levi’s on, the Sherman shirt you bought a few weeks ago that never seems to be off your back. Harrington pulled on and you’re out the door. Down the end of the street, catching the bus downtown.

Trudge through the snow, or ignore the rain, maybe pretend you’re not dying in the harrington on summer days. Depends on the season, doesn’t it? Hour later you’re downtown, suddenly coming back to life. It’s grown immensely since those days, but even at that time it seemed to bring you to life. Off to the record store.

Disappointment rears its ugly head once more as you begin to slip through the same stack of LPs last week. Then your heart skips a beat. Could it really be? In it’s sepia toned glory, there it is. One of the finer collections of skinhead reggae that’s ever been put out. Staring right back at you. Here? Really? You can’t believe it.

You pick it out like some long lost treasure, hidden in the darker recesses of a cave in some miserable third world country. Careful, as if pulling it out to fast could make it disappear like sand between your fingers. Next is the exit operation. Even though you know deep down the album is of interest to almost no one here you have to extract this album from the store like a Cold War era spy sneaking out of a Moscow park after a dead drop.

Soon your at the register, shaking with excitement. Any price would seem reasonable at this point. The few songs you’ve heard on this album are incredible. There’s even more that you’ve yet to hear, but the names you recognize. Names those in the know recite with ease. You want to be that person. Able to discuss your favorite sax man, organ player or vocal trio with ease. This will be the start of your education.

Soon your making your way to the bus stop. It can’t possibly come fast enough. The sooner you get home the sooner this is thrown on the turntable and heard. The sweet crackle breaking through the speakers bringing the anticipation to an entirely different level. But for now you’re stuck on the bus, heading home in bliss.

It’s a perfect moment. The kind that doesn’t happen often. The kind of moment where everything all of the sudden makes sense and nothing could be better. The kind of moment so fleeting that it’s almost as maddening as it is wonderful.

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