I’d listen to a few songs from a clunky 8-track tape player while thumbing through a stack of 12″ vinyl records. I’d choose an album and queue it up on a turntable. I also had a double cassette deck to work with. I was a rock-n-roll deejay, in my older brother’s bedroom.
I was 10.
I could spend half a day in Andy’s room listening to his current American Rock (now considered Classic Rock. Yikes!) Another older brother, Paul, had a vast collection of British Invasion bands that could keep me entertained.
I loved hearing the rhythmic crackle of a scratch as it made its rotation on the record player. My air guitar entries into each song were timed perfectly by memorizing the texture of “silence” between songs. Every few albums I’d have to blow the dust off a worn out needle so it could glide easily across the discs.
Ahh, music was good back then. Why was it so good? Because it told a story.
Songs had beginnings, middles, and endings.
I’m not talking about the 3 1/2 minute commercial junk they played on mainstream radio.
I mean the “B” sides. The sagas, the epics, the jams that lasted a whole album side. That’s what I liked.
It took 3 1/2 minutes for the musicians to warm up and set the scene. That was the beginning. The crescendo. The anticipation of greater things to come.
The middle was always my favorite. There was conflict and struggle. There were creative “discussions” between the drums and guitars and the vocals. The story got interesting!
The lyrics didn’t matter much to me.
I liked the rhythm, the feel, the flow, the harmony and improvised choreography of it all.
The musicians were artists, expressing their passion and anguish and pain onto a fret board of a guitar. That one note, in the middle of a creative solo, that cried and screamed.
Or, a singer’s signature note that lasted and made me think ,”How can he have that much air in his lungs?” It lingered forever.
The cathartic moment. The climax. <Insert goose bumps.>
Then, there was the slow and gradual return to normal. The cool down. The End.
A beautiful story.
<Crackle, crackle, crackle>
The next song would begin. I’d get lost in another story.
Give me a double album or better yet, a double live album, and I was a happy camper.
My mother never had to worry about me getting into trouble out in the neighborhood. She knew where I was at all times. She would have to flicker the hallway light on and off to let me know that dinner was ready.
Every so often, my mother would wait at the bottom of the stairs wearing a scowl, “You need to take off those headphones and turn the music down! You’re going to burst your eardrums and you’ll be deaf one of these days.”
Music was my hobby as a kid. If I wasn’t playing outside, I was listening to music. And sometimes, I had the best of both worlds.
Andy would put speakers in a bedroom window. The neighborhood kids would gather to play baseball on our dead end street for hours, accompanied by music.
I miss being a kid.
Nowadays, I put in the earbuds of my iPod and let music take me away, while cutting the grass. I’m outside and I’ve got music.
I will listen to something like this. A 10:54 gem.
Most of you will not watch the whole video. If you must, fast forward to about 6:30 and watch from there.
Listen beyond the music. Hear the STORY.
I am a kid again. Life is good.
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.