Eventually the question, “what kind of music do you like?”, comes out of my mouth and into the ears of all of my employees. I can’t help it. When Jim Randall said, “I really like smooth jazz”, I wasn’t sure if he was bullshitting me or not. Nobody really likes smooth jazz. Not even the musicians that play it for the various Muzak outlets. He might have seriously liked it; he told me he liked its relaxing qualities, the same with classical music.
Then he told me that he loved The Beatles. And hated The Beach Boys. Our music conversations really got interesting after that.
I have to say that I would be in the Rolling Stones queue in the great “Beatles vs. Rolling Stones” segregation, but the question is posed better to those who were living while those bands were still, creatively, flourishing. Jim, who was growing up in that era, had both feet firmly planted in the Beatles camp. Our best conversations revolved around those two bands; trivia, scandals remembered and revealed, favorite songs and albums. And, our conversations would usually end with me saying this sentence:
“You know who Sir Paul McCartney really liked? The Beach Boys.”
And Jim would say this:
“Well, it should have been him, and not John.”
Jim shared my sense of humor, and his stories about cultural events that happened before my time were told to me in a way I could truly appreciate; Danny Terio and Marv Albert, Troy Aichman and the pool boy (Jim was a humongous Dallas Cowboys fan), The Stones making out live on SNL, all the Texan things of interest but especially all things Stevie Ray Vaughan. We told each other wildly inappropriate jokes. He would tell me stories about all the gay men in the late Sixties/early Seventies with an incredible impression of each fellow(Paul Lynde on The Dating Game? Huh?). I of course valued his people skills, his honesty, and his initiative, but what made he and I friends was our love of music and culture of years gone by.
I was on a secret mission to make him see the err of his ways, to see the McCartney side of things(they knighted him, did you know that?), and make him love The Beach Boys. It was not meant to be; Jim Randall passed away on Friday, June 18th. Jim and I disagreed on a number of things. Understanding that you can be friends with people, can love people in general, and still disagree with them, is a beautiful trait that more people should have. He was forgiving of me and understanding of me, friendly and tolerant to me, and still really, really hated The Beach Boys. Well-placed passions like that will get you into heaven.
Jim is there, in the Rock And Roll wing, telling SRV he thinks David Bowie is a weirdo and a tightwad. I miss him already.