Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I bought some new records. With a collection formerly in the hundreds, a small figure compared to the collections found in the homes and apartments of the most hardcore audiophiles out in the world, mine, in recent years, has been trimmed down to dozens. But I haven’t added any new selections in at least a few years, and that’s a problem.
Needless to say, it was a sign that I spotted the small roadside advertisement for Second Edition Books yesterday. If it weren’t the week of Thanksgiving and I didn’t have a full plate – that is, before the one I’ll devour in a few days – I would have at least doubled the amount of time I spent nosing through the milkcrates there stuffed with untold riches in rock, jazz, soul and R&B.
But I had to make quick picks, and I walked away with five new LPs: Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman, The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St., The Beatles’ last slice-and-dice American release, Yesterday and Today, and Darkness on the Edge of Town, Bruce Springsteen’s 1978 album and recent target of a great amount of media attention for its recent reissue.
Mixed in with the recent hoopla about The Beatles’ music finally becoming available in the iTunes store, my time spent sifting through the LPs was extremely satisfying. It felt as if I was engaging in some great act of defiance by spending my precious time – and money – on music in a less-than-perfect medium, including selections now available in the most pristine quality and heard in the most convenient playback methods. But the feelings of excitement from yesterday’s purchases run deeper than giving MP3s the bird.
I attribute this mostly to the fact that my father – my original musical taste-maker – passed away two months ago, and one of the best ways for me to commune with him is to play his favorite music, loud, everywhere, and all the time. I grew up loving what he loved (most of which Mom can’t stand): Zeppelin, The Doors, The Who, Janis Joplin, Dylan, Hendrix. Dad’s tastes ran like a classic rock radio playlist, but I, like many others, grow tired of hearing it that way. I want to own the music how he owned it, listen to it how he listened to it, and pass along the same thing to my children – when they’re old enough to be trusted handling an LP and a turntable, of course.
Alternatively, I never knew my father to be a Springsteen fan – in fact, I imagine he probably wasn’t – but songs like “Across the Border” have caused me to shed a tear or two since his passing. And just last week, I was absolutely wrecked – and moved – by a recent blog post from the masterful sportswriter Joe Posnanski, whose beautiful meditation on fathers, music, life and dreams – centered on the lyrical content of the recent Springsteen reissue – struck a chord deep within me, to use a pun (because Dad appreciated them).
My father’s life was defined by many things: family, fatherhood, friendship, faith, generosity, wisdom, joy and laughter. Plus he was a star athlete, master chef and a consummate salesman. I didn’t turn out to be much of an athlete or a salesman, but I’m working on the other things – and I’ve amassed a modest, tasteful collection (if I say so myself) of LPs, and to me, it’s one way of showing Dad that another part of him had worked its way into my persona.
While he was on this earth, the moments that we spun records together were some of the best – it was an experience that I owned; not even my brothers had done so, unless you count whatever children’s albums we might have played in our formative years. But in those moments – like countless others in my life – I felt the love of a father through our shared appreciation for something that brought us joy. I still do now.