My Number One Fan
I have done a couple records in my life. They are out of print now, though we hope to put another one together soon.
We kept them under the counter at the office. My rule was the staff could never ask the patients to buy one. I felt like it was wrong to push them in the office, and I didn’t want my patients to feel obligated or just buy one to make me happy. (Drug reps were another matter; I told them if they wanted an appointment with me, they had to at least pretend to like my music.)
But if a patient asked for one, the staff could sell them one. We kept the money in a coffee can, and I’d count it at the end of the week and split it up with all my guys. As folks who play this music on a semi-pro basis know, it wasn’t a lot of money.
Every so often, a patient would tell me they’d like to hear my music, but I knew they couldn’t really afford a record. When I knew they couldn’t buy their medicine, it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do. I’d give ’em one, and ask ’em not to tell anybody. I always put the money in the coffee can so my boys wouldn’t be out anything. After all, the recording was only 1/6 mine.
Our first one came out in cassette tape. One day an old fellow asked me where he could hear my music.
I took a look at him. He had on old tobacco stained bib overalls, and his snaggles were in terrible need of dentistry he could not afford. His five o’clock shadow was working on midnight.
“Tell, you what Jim, let me give you something.” I went up front, dropped the money in the coffee can, retrieved a tape, and took it to him. “Just don’t tell anybody. I ain’t supposed to give ’em away.”
“Why Doc, thank you so much.” I thought the man was gonna cry. I wondered how long it had been since anyone had ever given him anything.
When our second one came out, he heard about it, and scratched together some bills and came to the office. “I want to buy one of them things, Doc. I’m your biggest fan.”
This time they were out in CD. I handed him one. “Hold onto your money, Jim. The boys said you’re so loyal they wanted to give you one.”
“Well thanks Doc.” I noticed he eyed it kinda funny and turned it over and over. “Sure is flat.”
“It’s called a CD. They say they sound a lot better.”
“Hm. These is new. Well, I do appreciate it, sure enough.”
I later learned he didn’t own a CD player. His family found out and bought him one. The image of this man sitting alone in his farmhouse with one CD in his player was almost too much for me.
I saw him not long ago. “Doc, I sure do like that new record you gave me. (The thing was years ago.) When y’all gonna make another one?”
“Soon I hope. We’re gonna give you one. You’re our number one fan.”
He smiled a near toothless grin. “You got that right, Doc. You got anything new for arthritis? Mine’s a flared up some something terrible and…..”