The Traveling Wilburys

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I cleaned out my iPhone last night, purging all music from it and starting over.  I felt like I’d been in a rut musically lately and needed to change things up.  It was almost a traumatic experience to hit that delete button.  Part of me wishes they made an MP3 player that could hold my entire music library so I would never have to choose what to carry with me.  Part of me.  The other part is kinda glad that I have to choose because it means that I explore my music more than I would otherwise, picking and choosing the things I want to listen to, finding gems I may have forgotten about or that I haven’t listened to in a long while instead of listening to the same twenty songs over and over again.

A while ago, The Traveling Wilburys Collection was finally released on iTunes and reissued on CD after a very long absence.  Here’s a trip for you – I had them on cassette tape!  I never owned the CD’s and, consequently, didn’t have them in my iTunes except for a couple of the hits that came from somewhere.  So when they came up, at long last, as something I could purchase on iTunes, I was really excited.

Then I promptly forgot about it and didn’t buy the collection.

I kept thinking, every once in a while, ‘Oh, hey – need to buy The Traveling Wilburys!’ but then I’d get distracted and it would get pushed to the back of my mind again.

Until last night.

I bought the whole collection and promptly added it to my iPhone playlist.  I’m listening to it today at work.

I remember the first time I listened to these songs.  My mom was working at an Italian Restaurant called Luigi’s in Fresno California.  It was on Blackstone Ave in the same strip mall area as K-Mart and this hobby store whose name escapes me but where I bought my first Dungeons & Dragons books.  Anyway, I would go to Luigi’s after school (taking the bus) and hang out with mom playing Mrs. Pacman in the bar or doing my homework in one of the empty booths until she got off work at six and we’d head home for dinner.

One day, I’d heard this song ‘handle me with care’ by the strangest group; The Traveling Wilburys.  The group was made up of some really famous people including: George Harrison, Jeff Lynn, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan & Roy Orbison.  I really liked and wanted the song.  I asked my mom and she gave me some money and sent me down the strip mall to Tower Records where I bought the cassette.  I then headed behind the K-Mart to the little apartment complex where my older brother was living so I could play it on his stereo.

I remember him staring at me as I played the songs.  “You like this?” he asked.  “Yep,” I replied.  He was surprised.  “I didn’t think you liked good music.”

Of course, it made me suspicious that he would make such a comment.  He and I did not like the same music.  His tastes tended towards AC/DC, Metallica, Led Zeppelin. Boston, Deep Purple and Yngwie Malmsteen – none of which appealed to me at all (they did later, as I grew older and my own musical horizon was expanding – but not Yngwie…).  For him to like what I was listening to was unusual and unsettling.

I sat there on the floor of his apartment and listened to the cassette through twice before I had to leave and walk back to Luigi’s.  That was just the first of many, many times I would play that cassette through front to back.  My friends were into the Wilburys as well and when we’d go out, it was often in the mix of stuff we’d pop into the car stereo and listen to or played in the background as we hung out and played D&D, so that little cassette tape got a lot of play.

It’s nice to have this music back into the mix again.  I don’t know what confluence of events brought these guys together for a short time to make music together, but I’m glad that they did come together to produce some of my favorite songs of all time.

~P

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