I saw my first copy of The Real Book when I was 15. The coolest, hippest, jazziest trumpet player I knew (he was 17 and knew who Miles Davis was) had a copy of this spiral-bound badge of savvy: a clear mark of being "in the know" and "on the scene".
I joined the ranks of the wannabe cool when I bought my first copy of The Real Book out of the back of a van. (Okay, actually, off a table at the back of a gym at the back of campus. But I'm pretty sure the table, the books, and the seller were all together in a van at some point.)
After years of (ab)use, well after it had fallen apart, I replaced it first with The New Real Book and later, when I realized The New Real Book wasn't actually the new The Real Book, with the new, legal The Real Book.
But where did it all begin? Who can reveal the mysteries, uncover the secrets, of this much beloved, much reviled tome?
(And why does it have so many Steve Swallow and Paul Bley tunes?)