Just What You Needed

By WES BROOKS,

I didn’t really have a thought or theme in mind when I started writing this month’s article. I was sorely lacking in inspiration so, after dropping my fifteen year-old off at church youth group, I slid over to a place that I think is perfectly and uniquely “Hattiesburg.”

What do I mean?

I mean if I was told I had to choose one place in town where the greatest cross-section of what our great city has to offer it would be this place.

Where am I talking about?  Well, it ain’t the train station.  It’s T-Bones Records & Café, of course.

With that, geography has played a pivotal role in this month’s music selection.

Or selections, I should say because coming in this place makes it impossible to incorporate just one song, but I’ll give it a go.

This month’s song selection, “Just What I Needed,” is the first track on their 1978 debut album, The Cars, as well as the first on their 1985 Greatest Hits.

If you want to listen to something that is bona fide gold from start to finish, go get The Cars Greatest Hits, and thank these Bostonians and a handful of other bands for keeping rock music alive when the music culture du jour at that time was Eric Carmen, ABBA, platform shoes, and bell bottoms.

If you own a record player, come to T-Bones and purchase the album, or if you’re staying in the present, it’s an easy iTunes download.

I’ve just walked into my favorite sandwich/coffee shop, and as I come through the door I’m greeted by the guitars of Elliot Easton and Ric Ocasek.

Then, a bass playing very familiar 8th notes is accompanied by Moog synthesizer and a steady backbeat, and then, the criminally underrated vocals of the late great Benjamin Orr.

If you’ve never been to T-Bones, first, I’m sorry.

Second, get there quickly.

My head is already bouncing to the beat and I’ve only made it five feet into the store.

And this isn’t Muzak or satellite radio.

This is vinyl… they’re playing real records.

Before I begin, I should mention that it is 5 o’clock Sunday afternoon and the place is almost full.

One would expect it to be quite loud, but it is not.

Although all are drinking cups full of what can only be described as caffeine-infused gloriousness, the room is calm and the noise doesn’t exceed what’s acceptable in a library by too much. (I like to think it’s so everyone can hear the fantastic music that is always playing here.)

 

I don't mind you comin' here

And wastin' all my time

'Cause when you're standin', oh so near

I kinda lose my mind

 

I’ll give you the lay of the land as it appears at this very moment.

I’ve just walked from the counter with my delicious T-Bones Cold Brew and have purposely positioned myself in the center of the room to provide you, the reader, an around-the-clock description of my fellow patrons while I wait on my Moosiana sandwhich and chips.

At 12 o’clock, there’s a table of young girls all wearing the same Greek letters.

Judging by the expressions on their faces, I can only assume they’re talking about the paper they should be working on right now or that one girl in this year’s pledge class who is dead set on getting the boot.

Or maybe everyone at that table just smells something awful.

 

It's not the perfume that you wear

It's not the ribbons in your hair

And I don't mind you comin' here

And wastin' all my time

 

At 3 o’clock is a middle-aged couple who are sharing and really enjoying a very large, attractive piece of tiramisu. (Full disclosure: before I left I succumbed and had some myself… AMAZING.)

Based on their facial expressions (or lack thereof), I’d imagine the content of their conversation could be the ridiculousness of last month’s electric bill, or arguing which one of them is going to help their child who waited until tonight to tell them they have a science project that’s due tomorrow, or maybe who’s going to fire the yard guy because he, once again, failed to weed the flower bed.

At 6 o’clock is a young couple, and folks, they are totally diggin’ one another.

We’re not talking first date; we’re talking third or fourth. You know, the one that goes down on a Sunday because Saturday night went so well.

And they are clearly in love.

How do I know?

Because they’ve been sitting at their table sharing the same sandwich and smiling and giggling at each other for twenty minutes and they haven’t said the first word to each other.

At 9 o’clock is my favorite table, and it’s my favorite because they spoke loudly.

And by “loudly,” I mean my tinnitus-ravaged ears could hear their conversation.

Before I get to the conversation, allow me to attempt to describe the four twenty-somethings at that table with the disclaimer that I know there are pictures from my early twenties floating around of my blissfully ignorant attempts to dress kitschy so as to appear humorously ironic, i.e. I am not making fun or “hatin’” on these fine young folks.

 

I don't mind you hangin' out

And talkin' in your sleep

It doesn't matter where you've been

As long as it was deep, yeah

 

They appear to be two couples and all four appear to be in grad school, and all from north of the Mason-Dixon line.

On one side is a young man who’s maybe 22 or 23.

He’s wearing a wool beanie, glasses, a Wonder Bread® t-shirt, hoodie, corduroy jeans, and wing tips which appear to also be the shoes he wears when hiking or playing Frisbee golf.

And the other three all appear to have raided his closet.

 

You always knew to wear it well and

You look so fancy I can tell

I don't mind you hangin' out

And talkin' in your sleep

 

Their conversation bounces from their disdain for how the English language is butchered here in the South and how our colloquialisms are nonsensical.

Mr. Wonder Bread: “I know, right? Like, I was in Louisiana visiting a friend and they don’t say something is ‘fried,’ they say it’s ‘boiled in oil.’ I just want to tell them ‘no, the oil isn’t boiling, the food is frying.’”

Ms. Wonder Bread: “And like, can these folks please learn how to say ‘salmon?’ I mean, it’s pronounced ‘sam-mon,’ not ‘sal-mon!’”

Wonder Bread’s guy friend: “Yeah, well, I don’t care if they call it ‘boiled in oil’ or ‘fried,’ they still do it better than anywhere else in the country. And po-tay-to, po-tah-to, don’t forget we totally do that with name of my home town. How did we get Glah-stah from Gloucester, or Woo-stah from Worcester?

Ms. Wonder Bread: “Oh, I’m not knockin’ it, I was simply pointing out the irony… that this little part of the world produced literary icons like William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Richard Wright. 

Now, that’s an eclectic room, right?

And it’s as eclectic as the establishment; it’s owner, Harry Crumpler, and the menu served there.

On any given day you may run into doctors, lawyers, newspaper editors, students, university faculty and staff, or even our Mayor and his crew from City Hall.

If you want a sandwich that’s panini-pressed to perfection, coffee done right, or a sweet treat while shopping for a new book or perusing the best collection of vinyl south of I-20, get yourself to T-Bones Records & Café.

And if you want a breakfast experience that’s ultra-cool, I highly recommend you visit them any Sunday between 11:00–2:00 p.m. for their Jazz Brunch.

Whatever you decide to get there, I promise it’ll be just what you needed.

 

When he’s not rocking his socks off, Wes Brooks spends his days as the Development Coordinator at the DuBard School for Language Disorders at The University of Southern Mississippi.  Brooks is a husband, a father, and a guitarist for the local band, The 6550’s.

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