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November 25, 2013 / thackersam

November 24 – Sunday – The Hassles

Hassles AlbumI didn’t buy this album. I didn’t steal this album. There is no good reason for me to have this album. I hadn’t even heard of The Hassles. Until… ah, I can remember it as if it were yesterday.

My friend and I, ages 14 and 15 respectively, were sitting at our usual spot in town on the base of the clock tower near the railroad crossing. The station in those days was right across the tracks. It was summer and a sunny day. Standing out in front of the station was a most wondrous sight – a beautiful man with silky golden brown hair, wearing nothing but a pair of jeans and a deep, even tan covering his perfect body. He stood there soaking in the sun, as if he needed to, and eventually made his way over to our post. His name was John, he told us, and after probing one of the young managers of the local record store, we learned he was John Dizek and somewhat of a local celebrity as he had been in a Long Island band called The Hassles. Who? Another friend, after swearing he was only using it as a cake plate, gave me her younger brother’s copy of this, the first Hassles album.

We hung out with John a time or two, but he wasn’t around much. Mostly that summer, we would meet up with his friend Tracy, with whom John had been in a band previous to The Hassles, and Tracy’s cohorts. I became Tracy’s girl, probably one of many, and probably the youngest. I was slim and sullen and major jailbait. Nothing horribly nefarious going on, but Tracy did teach me how to kiss. He was 22 and eventually cut me loose, breaking my heart, which I actually think he might have felt bad about, even though it was a necessity. But try telling that to the 15-year-old youngblood.

Later that year, I noticed an album displayed on the record store’s wall called Cold Spring Harbor that caught my attention because that was the next town over from where I lived. A touristy kind of village, Cold Spring Harbor boasted a fish hatchery and a whaling museum, both of which are still there. The artist was a guy named Billy Joel, who along with John Dizek had been a member of The Hassles. This was Billy Joel’s first solo album, pre-Piano Man, and was the impetus for his move to L.A. In an interview with Billy that I had read a short while back, he refers to The Hassles as not a very good band, whose lead singer was very good looking, but couldn’t really sing, causing him, Billy, to step in and take over some of the vocals. Listening to the album now, neither Billy nor John had impressive voices, and the album itself probably served a better purpose as a cake plate.

As a follow-up – Four years later, I was at John’s then girlfriend’s house with my then boyfriend. John didn’t have this album, only the second one, which if memory serves, was better. And though I don’t recall what was said, John had only nice things to say about Billy, who by that time had hit it big. Really big.

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