There is no way to tally the total number of hours spent listening to the albums over and over. There are scant witnesses left who could verbalize the countless times I cornered them, with needle about to drop on a passage of instrument, or of a cleverly quizzical line unraveled, or the true depth and meaning of a phrase turned or of the serene smile and sanctified feeling while lazing and absorbing over and over – discovering a newly uncovered trinket in the track.
I was thirteen when an album – only listened to once – was given to me as a toss aside. Being only thirteen, and without a record player, I treasured that album not only as a possession that no one else had, but later as an item of value that seemed as if it were written for me, and me alone. Certain tracks, I thought at thirteen, were written with me in mind. Or at least by someone who lived the same parallel life that I did. Never since, as a child or an adult, has an album held more identity or meaning than that album has.
I became such a rapid and rabid fan that I silently hunted and hoarded each singular album, 45, poster and tome as they came out, eschewing cash as a casualty, in my uncontrollable proclivity and irrepressible impulse to have in my possession each of them as they were made public. Later, I eagerly sought out, much as a sleuth would, the most tender and rare of raw sinews within the whole body of work.
So impressed and altered have I been, that years later, with progeny of my own, the eldest was burdened with the artist’s name much as I might have given if I had a favored uncle’s name to bestow.
Even when faced with scorn for the playing of certain tracks, I upheld my own belief that the hoi polloi was plebian in their misguided and unlearned non-acceptance of the artist. I clearly remember playing, in a crowd of fellow fifteen year olds at the time, the track “I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier Mama, I Don’t Wanna Die” and the accompanying groans. I played on in my fiery, consuming belief that they were an unwashed minion swayed by popular prejudice and ignorance.
I clearly and distinctly remember that night in December when the cord of life had been clipped. I was at a bar in Newton, Mass. when the announcers of a Monday Night Football game hesitantly relayed the assassination. It would be thirty more years, as chance would have it, before I stepped in that very bar again, memories flooding even as I sat there for a completely different reason.
I have very few regrets in life. However, one that stands vividly clear is my decision of not hopping on a train for NYC the day after tragedy struck. This past summer, in an eye of a storm, I spoke about how much I still want to go to NYC to visit the memorial in its entire splendor.
Today, I’ll spend a few precious moments with my eldest, reading select paragraphs of that great man on this, what would have been his 70th birthday, even as eyes are rolled and smirks are not so well hidden, trying to pass on how important it is to be swayed by your own dreams, how right it is to allow the heart to trump over the mind, that peace unavoidably leads to serenity and that love is the answer to all of the mysteries of life.
From: Acoustic