I was 11 years old in 1977 and working weekends for my father at a flea market flower shop in New Brunswick, NJ. This required driving up the New Jersey Turnpike with a pot-smoking hippie named Walt. Of course, I didn’t understand then that he reeked of pot, but I sure know now. It was the first time I was ever away from my family for more than 8 hours and that song played endlessly in my brain. The lyrics go, “His mother and father said what a lovely boy. We’ll teach him what we learned, Ah yes just what we learned, we’ll dress him up warmly and We’ll send him to school, It’ll teach him how to fight to be nobody’s fool! Oh, what a lonely boy.”
So, yeah, I definitely learned customer service and putting up with pushy North Jersey urbanites while selling discounted perishable flowers on close out, but I often felt very alone, with no one my age to socialize with. It was at this indoor flea market that I first noticed a stand selling new records. I browsed through the racks and settled on my first 45 purchase, David Bowie’s “Fame,” and, suddenly, I didn’t feel so lonely anymore.