Songs from Uncle George’s Basement

My Uncle George and Aunt Jessie were the hip, young aunt/uncle pair.  Aunt Jessie is my Dad’s younger sister, and she’s the only aunt I have who I have ever addressed in English.  Every other aunt and uncle I have I grew up addressing in Polish.  When Aunt Jessie and Uncle George arrived in the US, they were younger than my parents and other aunts and uncles, so their accents were less pronounced.

They live in this awesome old Victorian, it’s the same house where I got stung by a wasp on Christmas Eve when I was 5.  But I have so many fond memories of spending time with my cousins at their house. 

The basement door was off the kitchen, the stairs were L shaped.  At the bottom you could turn left and walk into a basement bar with light up Tuborg beer signs on the wall behind the bar.  Or could turn right at the bottom of the stairs and end up in Uncle George’s crazy laboratory office room.  He had a collection of old army equipment, on which we used to pretend we were Radar O’Reilly from M*A*S*H.  He had beakers and litmus tape, and all sorts of lab stuff on a shelf.  But against the back wall, behind the wall of vintage army communication gear was a large drafting table.  Over the table on the shelf was Uncle George’s epic vinyl collection. 

Here are the songs that instantly take me back to that basement.  Thanks for the tunes, Uncle George!

Do They Know It's Christmas by Band Aid

I’ve never been so big on Christmas music.  But Uncle George changed that for me with this song.  He had it on vinyl and I listened to it dozens of times every time I went over there for Christmas.  I still adore this song.

Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks

This one has Uncle George written all over it.  He used to play this song all the time, and when he wasn’t playing it, he was humming it.  I always picture him dancing to it with me and my cousins whenever I hear it.

Ruby Tuesday

Oh man, this song.  I was obsessed with this song when I was about 8 years old.  My sister Margaret also had it on vinyl.  But this was one of those songs I played on Uncle George’s stereo over, and over, and over and over again.  I am sure the sound of it coming up through the floor to my parents, aunts and uncles around the table upstairs was annoying as hell.  I always imagine standing on the bench seats that were along the walls in the bar side of Uncle George’s basement, holding on to the pipes that went along the ceiling and singing along as I swayed to it.

Thanks, Uncle George, for implanting these awesome memories.  I will never forget you in these songs.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

added on 12.23.17

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