Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Girl, Put Your Records On

This is what I love about life. Each day brings the possibility of something amazing happening. And meeting amazing people. And getting amazing deals on stuff that really brings you joy. Are you wondering what in the world I’m talking about? Well, let me tell you….

Several weeks ago, our really nice neighbor called and asked us if we had any use for an old stereo system. He had just gone and bought a new one and thought our kids might enjoy the old one. Absolutely! When he brought the “stereo” over to us, I was shocked and awed to see this:

THAT is an actual real live record player on the top! I immediately told my husband that there was no way in Hades that the kids were getting their grubby little hands on that! All through my life, music has fed my soul in a way that even chocolate fudge cake could not compete with. Although I can not play any type of instrument and my singing voice is, shall we say, something only a husband can love, the sounds of music have been both a tonic and an amplifier for the deep, morose, lonely, love-filled, and happy feelings of my life.

My father likes to tell the story of how one morning when he was driving me to school (I think I was six), he was playing The Eagles “Wasted Time” on the good ol’ eight track and when the song was over he looked over to see me sobbing silently, my whole body shaking. In alarm he asked me what was wrong, because believe it or not, I was not a child prone to hysterics (that came later), he says I choked out the words, “I never knew a man could sing so pretty.” And even now, well maybe I should say especially now, that one song will always – every time – stop me in my tracks and reduce me to a deep – you know, pit of my stomach – kind of sorrow. The songs of The Eagles so defined my relationship with my father that when I found out that my first child was going to be a boy, I decided to name him Dalton, after the “Doolin-Dalton” songs and as a way to honor my father.

Growing up, once the dinner dishes were done and the house shifted and settled down for the night, my mother would put on a pot of coffee and play record after record on the turntable in the living room. Usually it was Linda Ronstadt, Janis Joplin, or Billie Holiday. Sometimes it was Led Zeppelin or Jimmie Hendrix. But she would wearily fall into that worn yellow couch and drink her coffee and chain smoke her long cigarettes and the music would soothe her, much like a hot bubble bath and a glass of wine would soothe others. Over time, it became the same for me.

There is just something about a vinyl record spinning on a turntable. The crackles and pops and static and soft hum of electricity bring the music to life in a way that those digitally remastered CDs just can’t accomplish. The soundtrack to my life embraces the imperfections and scratches that an mp3 file often doesn’t hold. Don’t get me wrong – I love my ipod and I am sure my treadmill would be covered in dust and laundry if it weren’t for the convenience of magical, portable music on demand.

But here’s the sad part of this story…my husband and I lost every single one of our 300+ records to a terrible flood that swept through New Braunfels in October of 1998. We also lost all of our clothing, furniture, and other useless knick-knacks. It was all gone. Just gone. Even though I know that stuff is just stuff, I remember trying so hard to find even one record that survived. I cried for the ruined mildewy photo albums. I cried for the warped and splintered Russian china cabinet. But mostly I cried for my lost music.

In the ten years that have passed since that flood, my husband and I have rebuilt a nice life. We bought new antiques and dishes and rugs to fill our home. New clothes and shoes and raincoats to fill our closets. We have been blessed with two children that require more stuff than we could have ever imagined. The ipod and music downloading sites have made it possible to have most of our cherished music back.

And now our neighbor has given us a record player.

This past weekend we went to a used record store in the neighboring town of Natick. The place is called Déjà Vu Reords. I am not sure what I was expecting, maybe some ratty little shack that smelled like mice or something, but we were very warmly greeted by the shop’s owner, a tiny little Greek woman who acted as though she had been waiting there all morning just for us to show up. It was like she knew us or something. She immediately led the kids over to some boxes that held children’s records and told them to start a stack of their favorites (some Beethoven for children, ET narrated by Michael Jackson, many Disney collections) and then led my husband and me over to the “Classic Rock” section. Dudes – there were thousands of records! It seemed like every stack I went through held a familiar record from my youth. It was like going through old photo album and seeing pictures of friends you had almost forgotten.

An hour later we brought our huge stack of records over to the counter and waited to hear how much our indulgence was going to cost us. The shop owner asked each one of us our favorites. We talked with this sweet woman about music and about moving to this strange land they call Massachusetts and how we miss our family and how cute the kids are. And then she gave us her price for our records. Ten dollars. Get out, you say. Seriously. 10 singles for all this:

AND. And she asked us to come back this weekend and we will all go to dinner at a little restaurant down the street that she wants to show us. Because she likes us. And I think she might be lonely. But mostly, I think she is just really nice. How cool is that? The kids are so excited and keep reminding us that we have a dinner date with a stranger this weekend. Life is so full of adventures!

So all week, after the dinner dishes are done and the kids are settling down for the night, my husband puts on a record (usually Linda Ronstadt or The Eagles – last night it was an amazing Big Band collection) and we sit on the couch with our evening coffee and feed our souls. Life is so good.

For those of you that are super observant, you might notice that I picked up two copies of “Hotel California.” One is for us to play, and the other is my back-up copy.
Just in case.


Melissa said...

First, I had never, ever heard of that song until "Idol" last night. i never watch t.v., but when I heard that, I had to stop and watch. I loved her!

Anyway, you brought back so many good memories! I used to have a stereo like that in my room and I would spend hours and hours just listening to records. I had hundreds of them. I wish I still had them.

Enjoy your wonderful new gift!

Pistolmom said...
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kristi said...

My Grandpa had a record player...I used to love listening to music with him, it is one of my better childhood memories.