WELCOME TO SIRE’S BY ROBERT MORGAN FISHER 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 26
The couple from the bar approached Hannum’s dee-jay booth.
“Can you play Love Shack by The B-52s?” said the girl, a gum-clacking local.
“Why not?” said the guy, an obvious homegrown college joe.
“Because if you’ll look at the neon sign outside, you’ll see that the name of this establishment is Sire’s.” Hannum held up an Everyday is Like Sunday 12-inch by Morrissey. “We only play classic Sire Records.”
“Aren’t the B-52s on Sire?” said the girl.
“You’d think they were. And in fact they almost were—”
“Just play the fuckin’ song.” The boy twanged.
“I don’t have it.”
“Well, whaddya have?” The boy reached for the record bins and Hannum slapped his wrist. “Uh-uh-uh,” scolded Hannum. “Watch it, boy.” The college kid glared, spat tobacco juice into a beer bottle.
“You mean to tell me,” said the girl, mouth working her chewing gum ever faster as she spoke, “that a club in Athens, G-A, don’t got no B-52s?!”
Hannum loved that song. He loved The B-52s. They should have been on Sire—but they weren’t. There were other groups in the same boat (Midnight Oil, Joy Division, Gang of Four) that, in a perfect world, would have also been on Sire. But they weren’t, so he couldn’t play them. It was a matter of artistic principle.
“Listen,” he said, “if I could make an exception for one song—it would be Love Shack. No question.”
“Fuckin’-A right,” said the boy. The girl sulked.
“In point of fact, The B-52s were almost a Sire band. But they wound up signing to Warner Brothers.”
“Whatever,” said the boy.
“My hands are tied,” said Hannum. “Management rules.” This was a lie. They were Hannum’s rules. Yusef would’ve allowed bluegrass jazz if it increased liquor sales. At that moment Yusef happened to enter the club—along with lantern-jawed, charismatic Wendell Magrum.
Mr and Mrs Love Shack headed for the door.
“The music in this place sucks,” the girl sneered at Yusef.