From The Desk Of Shoes’ John Murphy: Box Of Forgotten Dreams

Power-pop progenitors? O.G. DIYers? The last college-rock survivors? No label adequately captures the four-decade journey of Zion, Ill.’s Shoes, who have released their first new studio material in 17 years. Perhaps the most astonishing thing about Shoes is that this ethic and attitude prevails despite a collection of music-biz bumps and bruises that could rival Charlie Brown in terms of sheer career futility. In some ways, they’re the Forrest Gumps of rock. Shoes essentially presaged punk’s DIY movement by recording its first, early-’70s albums in the living room before garnering enough critical acclaim to merit a major-label contract. Shoes will be guest editing all week. Read our new feature on the band.

John Murphy: Awhile back, I stumbled into the heady, addictive world of flea markets and estate sales. As anyone who’s ever been bitten by this persistent little bug can attest, there isn’t much else that could get this body up at 5:25 a.m. in order to stand in line with a gaggle of over-caffeinated seniors, clutching their buck cup of mini-mart joe in one hand, gripping the handle of a beat-up wire cart with the other, nervously chattering with complete strangers, all waiting to shuffle their way through the entry gate promptly at seven. I go to these things with cash in my pocket and hope in my heart to find my next favorite thing. Each rickety table at every makeshift booth has the potential of holding something so breathtaking that you can’t get your wadded-up clump of bills out fast enough to throw at some wrinkled old dude in exchange for it. Five minutes earlier, you didn’t know it even existed, but now you can’t think of anything else other than possessing it. It didn’t take long for me to gravitate toward the small display cases that are usually within arm’s length of the vendor. It’s where they keep the more valuable or rarer items, and you have to ask if you want to check something out under the glass lid since they keep these cases locked. But every time I peer through the scuffed-up glass of one of these portable time capsules, it’s like looking at the residue of past lives: discarded brass keys, wooden yo-yos, nicked-up toy cars with peeling paint, discolored snapshots, pocket watches, WWII medals, Bakelite pencil sharpeners, harmonicas, jack knives, badges, clay marbles, bottle openers, clickers, aspirin tins, hand-worn metal soldiers … there’s no end to the variety in these things. Even though the contents are haphazardly thrown together, they bring to mind the delicate assemblages of Joseph Cornell: boxes filled with skillfully arranged objects that, as a whole, present an utterly unique view of a world that is no longer in existence.

Video after the jump.