Friday, November 20, 2009

Life is like a box of LPs

The economy is not good for those who were already making less than a living wage. People sell strange things in hard times, and yesterday there was a man selling vinyl records from a stack of boxes in front of a store. They were not in good shape at all, so I wasn’t thinking he was some sort of collector, but rather someone getting rid of a collection. I went through them because it’s been a while since I’ve seen this many LPs and because so many of them once belonged to me.
Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, Alice Copper, Journey, Foreigner, Heart, and the list of FM radio favorite were all there, all once neatly tucked into a collection I had many years ago, and all carrying some memory of a time long past. Some young guy came up and was treating them like he had discovered a cache of dinosaur bones. “Darkside of the moon!” he exclaimed “I remember my mom having this one.” Ouch.
There were several “Best Of” collections, and I can remember seeing some of these in the Bargain Bin many years ago. Boston, Seals and Croft, Olivia Newton John, and Otis Redding were represented there. Olivia Newton John was once incredibly hot and very popular. The young guy asks me who she was and I tell him she was a byproduct of the Disco Era, which isn’t strictly true. She was more than a little country back in the late seventies, and strayed over into the pop world when Disco broke out like the popular culture plague that it was. I hated Disco. Disco sucks.
It was odd seeing a copy of Jethro Tull’s “Heavy Horses”. It was 1978 when that LP came out, and I rushed out to buy it. I was the first person at the record store when it opened and I felt strangely alive by being the first person I knew with a copy of the album. I couldn’t listen to it on the way home, so I had to drive for about an hour before I could play it. Maybe everyone is like this, or maybe it’s just me, but there are certain pieces of music that are soundtracks for things that happened to me, and Heavy Horses was the soundtrack for the summer of 1978. That and the song, “Miss You” by the Rolling Stones that came out at the same time, trigger memories of the last real Summer I would have without an all Summer job. I had no idea I would never spend another Summer unemployed. I enjoyed it, though, I must say that.

There was a place we used to hang out called Factory Creek, where there was a small waterfall, and those of us who smoked pot called the place “Reefer falls”. Two idiot fool teenaged girls spray painted “Refer Falls” on the side of a limestone face, and I still remember how stupid I thought they were for doing it, much less the spelling error. I went there with a young woman that Summer, and it’s incredibly hard to describe what she meant to me. I was totally in love with her. There wasn’t anything about her that didn’t excite me, that didn’t feel my sense to overload, and to have her there with me was almost enough to cause my heart to stop. She was pregnant, just a couple of months, by someone else, and had returned to me out of the need of someone safe. I remember almost every single second of being with her there. I remember every breath I took, and each touch on every square inch of my soul.
Months later she was gone, and I went back to taste the remnants of the Summer, and the memory, and I listened to Heavy Horses. There was this thought I had, and I remember being very stoned when I had it, that there was just so many times an eight track tape could be listened to before it broke, or jammed, or one of the plastic wheels inside died. It was a bootleg tape, of course, one I had made myself, and it occurred to me there would be more tapes I could make and it didn’t matter if this one died because I could replace it with another. But something also told me there was something special about there here and now, and this tape, and this day, and no matter what else happened in the future, much would never be the same again. This very moment was sometimes the very best of all moments, and no matter how well memory might serve, it would never surpass the heaven of the now.
Take Care,


  1. 1978. I was living in California then. Whoa! I loves me some Jethro Tull. I used to play the flute, but never like Ian. Also, I never could balance on one leg as long as he could.

    1. Melinda, I once had everything Tull did. But after "A" it was time to give up the ghost.

      You played flute? Who would have thought it!