1.1 Beginning.

Is it possible that I remember buying this record or am I remembering remembering? A dust-caked chain back through the decades places me in front of a free-standing bargain singles bin at Duck, Son and Pinker.

It turned out that Duck, Son and Pinker didn’t exist only at 11 Union Street in Swansea. In my circumscribed world, I thought this palace of drums and keyboards and electric drums and electric keyboards and electric guitars and Spanish guitars and tambourines and tunes and sheet music and singles and albums belonged to us alone; it didn’t. It belonged to Bath and they made pianos and printed their own music as well, and it isn’t in either of those places any more. It closed in Swansea in the 1990s and shut its doors for good in Bath in 2011.

I am in front of a bargain bin at Duck, Son and Pinker and I am buying my first record. I don’t know what year this is, although the year the single was released I was too young, so it isn’t 1972.

1972 was the year of the Munich Olympic massacre.

1972 was the year of the Watergate scandal.

1972 was the year of Bloody Sunday.

1972 was the year of Cabaret and Mastermind and Emily and Ernie Bishop’s wedding.

In 1972, Britain held its first gay pride march.

pride-1972

1972 was the year of ‘Crocodile Rock’, which somehow ends up unsold and a few years’ later is in the cheap racks, then in my hand and then now in the room in which I am sitting.

I don’t know in what capacity I ‘buy’ it: do I get pocket money, aged five or six, enough to buy anything bigger than a comic or sweets? Do I peel off a mitten and point a pink index finger at it and say ‘this one’?

But I am here, in town, with my mother and my sister, in the basement of the shop that sells music to the people in every shape they can get it, looking into a container of cheap singles.

My sister buys a single by Flintlock.

I buy Elton John’s ‘Crocodile Rock’.

crocodile-rock

I never listened to the record apart from to say to myself, to new friends, to whoever’s in the room that this, this is the first record I ever bought. Listen:

“I remember when rock was young…”

And yet, although I remember the act of buying, I don’t remember what leads me to this record. It isn’t the cover (look at it; even when pristine it would have been dowdy in its mustard and moss-green tartan). It isn’t the music: I’ve never leven iked Elton John, apart from the Kiki Dee one. Maybe he is the only pop star I’ve heard of in the pile. Maybe it is because I am mad about animals and will want to be a vet when I grow up and this sounds funny: a crocodile! Rocking! Ha ha.

Whatever my reasons were, it’s mine now.

What I don’t remember is the record ever making an impression on me. No spark’s ignited when I hear it’s first bar. I don’t know all or even any of its intonations and pauses. I can sing the la-la-lala-lala-la bits but it’s just a chubby fist banging up and down a piano chugging through some standard pub rock and it only makes as much impression on my as any other song from that time. It didn’t set the pattern for my tastes and I glad for that. The B-Side is ‘Elderberry Wine’. I’ve no idea if this song sounds familiar: it just sounds like every song Elton John has ever written.

Even so. This is where it all began and it’s travelled everywhere with me wherever I’ve gone: just not in my heart.

Crocodile Rock by Elton John

Label: DJM
Run-out message: /
Release date: 27 October 1972
Entered charts: 4 November 1972
Top chart position: 5

I catalogued this myself with ‘4A Eld Wine EL’ and clearly went wild with a date stamp on 30 Aug 1978 30 Aug 1978 30 Aug 1978 30 Aug 1978 30 Aug 1978.

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