How I Bought My First Vulgar Boatmen Record

Having an "official" favorite band used to be important. When I went to high school back in the 1980s, it was common to dress in accordance with your favorite band or style of music - Dead Head, Metal Head, Goth, Punk, Rap (this was there era of Run DMC and the Beastie Boys). I liked The Band. My goal was to fade into the background and hope that the night mare would be over soon. My freshman year in college I was introduced to The Vulgar Boatmen. The combination of the subversive name with the perfect, unpretentious rock songs was irresistible. They were my new favorite band. I HAD to buy You and Your Sister, but I couldn’t find it. 

I couldn’t pass a record store without stopping in and asking, “Do you carry You and Your Sister by The Vulgar Boatmen? If not, could you order it?” 

“The what?” 

“The Vulgar Boatmen. The album was reviewed in Rolling Stone.” 

“All the metal is in that big section in the middle.” 

“They are nothing like metal.” 

“We don’t carry that hard core crap here either.” 

I was being insulted on account of my favorite band. I was fighting to preserve their good name!  I was all in! I visited the record store in the mall near where I lived in western New Jersey every chance I got…for a year. 

One day I noticed an address on the back of The Silos (with the bird on the cover). So I wrote a letter, “To whom it may concern: I’d like to buy a copy of You and Your Sister by The Vulgar Boatmen and About Her Steps and Cuba by The Silos. Can you help me?” About a week letter I received a letter, “Dear Mark, Thank you for your interest. I have a few boxes of these in my kitchen. I can send you You and Your Sister and About Her Steps on cassette and Cuba on CD. Please send me a check for $20, and I’ll send them to you. Signed – Walter Salas-Humara.” 

This was long before fan engagement on social media. I was thrilled, but I didn’t have a checking account. I had to give my dad $20 and ask him to write a check. This was the era of Guns n Roses. He thought I was sending a check to Slash, and I was out of my mind. I’d always been sensible though, and I managed to convince him that these guys were different. 

I still have those cassettes and Cuba still gets played regularly. I remember showing my dad when they arrived, “Look these are my people.” My dad said, “I give you credit, you have faith in humanity.”

3 comments

  • Mike
    Mike Da Burgh
    You're loyal. I think I jettisoned my cassettes long ago.

    You're loyal. I think I jettisoned my cassettes long ago.

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