Rocks In The Attic #463: Bill Cosby – ‘I Started Out As A Child’ (1964)

RITA#463A couple of weeks ago, Real Groovy, the largest record store in Auckland moved sites – just across the road, in fact – due to their long-standing premises being redeveloped into city apartments (what else?). They took this opportunity to clear the decks and run a record sale to get rid of all the bottom-end stock. $1 a record, or 50 for $25. That’s 50c a record! I couldn’t pass this up.

There was a lot of junk in there though – I even saw the most copies of a Nana Mouskouri record in one place I’m ever likely to see:

RITA#463a(Side note – was Nana Mouskouri just decades ahead with her look? Those spectacles always defined her, but they don’t look much different to the styles of today).

To reach 50 records was a really hard slog, especially as it’s the middle of summer here. Thankfully I managed to find records I was at least interested in, or looked interesting. One thing that did help in terms of sheer numbers was that I found an almost complete Bill Cosby stand-up collection in decent condition.

Which leads me to the moral question – is it still okay to listen to Bill Cosby? As my friend Krista recently pointed out, Cosby was the greatest TV Dad of the late 1980s, which is why it’s so sad to hear all the allegations against him. The mounting evidence doesn’t look good; but if you stopped listening to artists because of what they do in their private life, then your record collection might be a constantly shrinking concern.

You’d have to throw those Beatles records away of course, due to the antics of self-confessed wife beater John Lennon, and the Who would be off limits because of Pete Townshend’s arrest. Oh, hang on, that was for “research”, wasn’t it?

I admit I’m rather partial to a bit of Gary Glitter’s Rock And Roll Part Two, and who doesn’t go teary-eyed when they hear Rolf Harris’ Two Little Boys? If you took everything into consideration, you’d have to boycott Roman Polanski films too – so no Chinatown, no Frantic or The Pianist. And those Tippi Hedren allegations against Hitchcock might rule his films out too. Screw that. I think I’d rather be a walking contradiction – consuming their art with one side of my brain and trying my best to ignore their private lives with the other.

This is Cosby’s second album, released in 1964, but the first to include stories of his childhood which he would cover throughout most of his career, not least on 1968’s To Russell My Brother Whom I Slept With. There’s a weird coliseum echo on the album, which kind of makes it even more authentic and of its time, and as with most stand-up comedy from that era, it’s not offensive or vulgar; just charming.

Cosby’s album titles make me laugh though – they sound like confessions that the prosecution team might take as evidence of his wrongdoing. I can imagine the following dialogue in court:

Prosecutor: Mr. Cosby, can you tell us when your offending began?

Cosby: I Started Out As A Child.

Prosecutor: I see. And is there any particular person in your childhood you would blame?

Cosby: My Father Confused Me… What Must I Do? What Must I Do?

Prosecutor: Interesting. Is there anybody else in your family you would point to?

Cosby: To Russell My Brother Whom I Slept With.

Prosecutor: Your own brother? You can’t expect us to believe your younger brother is at fault.

Cosby: It’s True, It’s True.

Prosecutor: And what was your motivation for the offending?

Cosby: Revenge.

Prosecutor: Against women in general, or against your family?

Cosby: Those of You With Or Without Children, You’ll Understand.

Prosecutor: Please don’t address the jury, Mr. Cosby. Now, can you point to where this…sickness originated?

Cosby: Inside The Mind Of Bill Cosby.

Prosecutor: Are you saying that you weren’t thinking rationally at the time of the wrongdoing?

Cosby: Bill Cosby Is Not Himself These Days.

Defence: Your honour, my client pleads insanity.

Judge: Order! Order! Order in my courtroom!

*

Hit: Sneakers

Hidden Gem: Street Football

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