Perhaps there are some things we should never become re-united with. I'm still not sure about this one. I had this 45 back when it was released, in 1972. I used to have quite a collection of 45s before I even had my album collection started. They were cheaper to buy, and you only had to listen to the song you wanted to hear. Like many 11 year old boys, I was really into novelty songs for a while. I was a fan of Mad magazine, but I actually liked CRACKED! magazine even better for some reason. I was only a little bit into comics, for some reason finding the 'SAD SACK' series enjoyable (it was a cruder version of 'Beetle Bailey'). I know for certain that I had Loudon Wainwright's "Dead Skunk" 45 at the same time I had Don McLean's "American Pie" because it has the same memories when I listen to it. Mostly it's the TWIN FAIR department store fire on the outskirts of Batavia NY memory that it brings back. For some reason that was a bigger disaster for my life than things that happened around the same time-frame, like Hurricane Agnes (which devastated nearby parts of the Genesee River Valley region). The TWIN FAIR fire was important because we could see it from Pembroke NY, where we were when it came over my dad's fireman's scanner in our family pick-up truck. It was a five alarm fire and all of the firemen in the county were either there or on standby. It happened after closing time, so nobody was hurt or killed...but I know for a fact that we were listening to "American Pie" on the radio, and to me the part about the music that died had a particular meaning. I got my 45s from TWIN FAIR, and all I could think of was all of the poor 45s and LPs trapped inside, melting an awful death. I also used to have this fear of being left behind in a closing store by my vengeful parents who were often tired of trying to get me to stop looking at the records and leave with them. So, I then had nightmares of being left behind at Twin Fair the night it caught fire.
I had a copy of Loudon Wainwright's "Dead Skunk" on 45. It was a big hit for a few weeks on WKBW. It's the story of a skunk that got hit by a station wagon. It really isn't that funny to me now, and I got so sick of it very quickly because my brother and sister also thought it was funny and started playing it over and over. I didn't want them to like my records too, and I got so sick of hearing it that I grabbed it off the record player, ran down to the basement and smashed that sucker against the cinder block walls. It felt good, but when I found pieces of it a month or so later I felt pangs of remorse. It was out of the top 20 and, therefore, unavailable at the Big N department store (which didn't have the selection of Twin Fair, but got me by until they built the new one, and until Batavia had it's own record shop, the Vinyl Jungle).
I only have it now because it was in a large lot of 45s I bought off of e-bay for the store. I never write about them, but I have a lot of 45s as well as my albums. I still collect them, rather passively, and enjoy having them even if I don't have the patience to play them and change them every few minutes. Or I'm too lazy. Take your pick. Mostly I have this comfort thing in me about them. I lost my entire collection of 45s when we moved out to New Mexico. They were among the things I left behind, with the promise that if we stayed out west our things would be there waiting when we went back for Christmas the next year. The 45s never made it, and when we visited my Dad's family I found some of my 45s mixed in with my uncle's 45s, which were strewn about the floor and badly scratched. Even though each of them had my name written carefully on them, when I said "Hey, these are MY 45s!" my grandmother said "No they aren't, they're your uncle Jeff's!" When I pointed out that they had my name on them she said that they were Jeff's because he helped my grandfather clean out our house, and he deserved them. I still hold that against my uncle even if we've long mended the fences. It was bad enough that he took them over, but to find my carefully cared for records totally massacred and unplayable was a stake in my heart. So, piece by piece, I've been re-gathering all the bits that were ruined, like Blue Swede's version of "Hooked On a Feeling" and the Animals "Sky Pilot." I don't know that I'll listen to "Dead Skunk" much, but I'm comforted to have that little piece of my childhood back again.
Check out this video of Loudon singing it 12 years after it was a hit, on German TV. He has to explain what a skunk is. Pay particular attention to when he tries to get the audience to participate. This has got to be the most reluctant crowd of Germans ever...