I live in the oldest part of Vancouver, in a neighbourhood that one could gently describe as “interesting”.  To put a finer point on it,  my wonderful loft space is kitty corner from a women’s shelter and a half block west of a men’s detox. I am also a block from Nesters Market (“Where the locals shop!”) a full service grocery store at Woodwards, that also happens to play great music.

Woodwards was a family owned Vancouver retailer that had been around since the turn of the century. It fell on hard times in the late 1980’s, eventually going bankrupt. The once flagship Woodwards’ store was on a site  that had at one time been at the city’s centre but eventually became an extension of skid road-as my parents called it- when other retailers and businesses moved south to the mall and the office towers that came with it.   After years of studies and discussions, and a lot of politics,  the site was redeveloped with a mix of market and social housing,  Simon Fraser University’s “School for the Contemporary Arts”, and an assortment of shops and services, including Nesters.  The Nesters brand  has something of a history itself, originating at Whistler, BC, but I digress.

I think of Nesters as “my” grocery store.  I am in there frequently,  often daily, in part because it is on my walking route home and in part because I find daily shopping suits cooking for one.  It is rare that I am in the store and don’t notice the music that is being played. This is not muzak, nor is it is some kind of bland, please everyone pap.  It is good music. Remarkably good music actually. Mike the store manager and I had a brief chat this week.  He tells me it is a satellite feed.  Someone is doing some fine channel choosing.

Here are the Top Five Songs Recently Heard in My Grocery Store.  What music has your grocery store been playing?

1. Love Shack-B52’s

This song is infectious and it is virtually impossible not to sway, tap your toes, sing along with etc. So there I was in the cereal aisle…   You get the picture.  It is not a wonder that they are named the “World’s Greatest Party Band”.   By the way, on my bucket list is to go stay at the the cabins run by Kate Pierson (the red head) near Woodstock, NY.

2. Instant Karma-John Lennon

Whenever I hear a John Lennon song it is very difficult for me not to reflect, at least momentarily, on what might have been.  Written and recorded in a single day, this was another Lennon recording produced by Phil Spector.  If anyone can shed any light on why Yoko is knitting blindfolded, I would be happy to hear from you.

3. Africa-Toto

What redeems this borderline cheese masterpiece is that it is the only song ever to use the words “Kilimanjaro” and “Serengeti” in the same verse.  EVER.

4. While You See a Chance-Steve Winwood

This was on Steve’s enormously popular 1980 album, “Arc of a Diver”.  A veteran of many influential and successful groups (Traffic, Blind Faith, The Spencer Davis Group), this album cemented his status as as solo act.  Steve played every instrument on every track.  I was in university, toiling at torts, when this was released.  It was a favourite of my friend Pat and got played to death at marathon Risk sessions, the lyrics offering some vague hope for the future.  Hearing it at Nesters on Friday immediately brought back those memories.  I love how music does that.

5. Sympathy for the Devil-The Rolling Stones

Who wouldn’t shop daily if this was being played while you were in the cashier’s line up?  This is the well aged Stones showing why, still, no band does the big show better.

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