Cream of the crop: (n) the fatty part of milk, which rises to the surface
Audacity can be richly comical if you don’t take yourself too seriously and believe that any one of your proclamations or dreams is sacred.
I’ve always been a music man with a poet’s heart, and the body of a lumberjack. (An overweight lumberjack.)
I’ve wanted to play songs, and I reached an age when the music part of my show was just not bringing in enough dough.
What I had available to me was a wife and two sons. So I decided to form them into a music group. We were not exactly the Partridge Family, the Jacksons nor the Osmonds. We were more like the…
Well, like the Smiths.
There was talent there—but the nine-year-old had just started playing drums, the fourteen-year-old was faithfully practicing on a bass guitar that was mostly broken, and my wife… My wife sang like a wife.
I was an old war horse who had done music for so long that I convinced myself, and quite a few other people, that I was proficient enough at doing it that I should not quit. So I decided to tour with my family.
I am not going to try to rationalize my decision nor disparage it. It was what was available, it was what we could do, we would be together, and no animals would be harmed in the process.
I taught them five songs. That’s right—five. It took a while. The sound was not great, but it would have evoked a smile of approval from the grouchiest member of an audience.
We needed to make a tape we could offer for purchase after our little shows. This way, people would have the music and we could have a few dollars for bologna.
We rented a studio and went in with our five songs—plus one, which I added the day of the recording session. Over the next five hours, we recorded them, mixed them down and ran off a master copy for duplication. Considering that I was working with a nine-year-old, a fourteen-year-old, my wife and my own nervous energy, the production quality hovered just north of bad.
The engineer turned to me and said, “What would you like to name the tape? Because I have to write something down on the label.”
I paused. I thought about the fact that these were the only six songs we knew, and there were no prospects in the near future of adding to the roster.
I thought about naming the tape, “The Best So Far.”
I mused the title, “Our Greatest Hits.”
I lamented that the title, “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” was already taken.
Finally it came to me.
Since it’s what we had, and we did our best, and it seemed we were at the top of our game at this station in our musical journey, I told the recording engineer to name it, “Cream of the Crop.”
He winced—but obeyed.