I am going to see Joe Henry tonight at Largo (never have I been happier to live in Los Angeles), so I thought I’d write about how I discovered him and his music. It’s kind of a random story and I find it amusing, so, perhaps you will too.
Back in the day, Tower Records stores had a big kiosk of postcards near the front door. They were promotional postcards for bands, TV shows, movies, sneakers, and other stuff. So, one day after an album-buying trip in 1996, I spotted the postcard pictured above on my way out of the store. I had never heard of Joe Henry, but I thought the photograph on the card was really cool and so I grabbed a small stack of them. It didn’t inspire me to look into Joe Henry (though, being a relatively pre-Internet era, I wouldn’t really have had anywhere to look him up other than going and buying an album) or do anything other than enjoy the image on the postcard. I mean, there were a lot of crappy bands and things promoted on those postcards, so it didn’t seem to me like a thing to do.
Fast-forward to 1998 when Henry’s next album was coming out. I saw a listing for an episode of Sessions at West 54th, a defunct PBS show that aired live performances, that was to feature Joe Henry. I sort of laughed, putting the name to the face on the postcards I had picked up a couple years earlier. That piqued my interest enough to tape the Sessions episode and check him out.
Suffice it to say I was completely taken with his music. After, like, one song I was hooked. He’s since become one of my (if not my number one) favorite musicians. He’s seriously amazing, as I’ve mentioned all over the Internets before. I can’t wait for the show tonight.
NB: I love that this post contains references to large chain record stores, VCRs, and an exciting time before the Internet. I’m 35, things were different when I was growing up.