Thursday, 24 September 2015

I gave away my record albums today

Well, they’re gone now and I am left wondering if that was the right thing to do.  It didn’t take much.  I finally asked the right question of the internet, and found a phone number.  The lovely Miss Janee made the call, they were happy to be of service and today they came to the house and took them all away.

My record albums.

I decided I needed a very clean, very surgical incision.  So I didn’t even bother to count them exactly.  200.  250.  300.  Maybe more, if you include the 45s, like my copy of Tom Northcott’s 'Sunny Goodge Street', autographed by the artist.  And the Rolling Stones' 'Dandelion'. And Neil Young’s 'Sugar Mountain'.  And weirder and still weirder, Kenny O'Dell’s 'Springfield Plane'.  Who the heck was Kenny O'Dell?  All I remember is that line, Springfield plane is going to carry me back to my baby’

For a brief moment on Sunday afternoon, as the rain fell, and we cleared stuff out of the attic, I thought I would open the boxes and take a look.  I thought I knew what I would find. The soundtrack of my youth, of course. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Bookends. After the Goldrush. Sweet Baby James.  For Everyman. Bringing It All Back Home. Records every note of which is laid down in the basic wiring of my brain. I was twelve or thirteen or twenty three, and I had vast caverns of mindspace waiting to be filled with music.

She’s got everything she needs she’s an artist she don’t look back.  

Sailing heartships through broken harbours, out on the waves in the night. 

Sunny skies sleeps in the morning. 

When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school.

Ribbon of darkness over me.

I always think that everyone of my generation knows all these tunes and words and am surprised when they don’t.

But anyway I had to stop looking because what I quickly discovered was not what I remembered but what I had forgotten. David Essig. Whoa boy could he play.  Early Leo Kottke. Bruce Cockburn’s In the Falling Dark, and the hours I spent learning to play 'Festival of Friends' in the winter of 1976-77.  David Lindley’s El Rayo-X, an absolutely spectacular record whose tracks jumped out of the speakers like wild animals.  Keith Jarrett’s Staircase: I was never sure if it was the music or the album cover photographs. The Pousette Dart Band - I saw them play once in Harvard Square I think. Donovan’s A Gift from a Flower to a Garden. Well, I had not forgotten that; it’s just that seeing it in my hands again sent me somewhere quite else.

Running my fingers through my past I had to stop. I decided that I could not do this one at a time.  Or I would not do it at all.  These boxes have sat in the attic, the records inside them unplayed, for years now, and, thinking rationally, I am not going to take a trip back into vinyl time and rediscover the justifiably neglected tracks on the early Byrds‘ albums, or the strange moody indulgences of Emerson Lake and Palmer.

Time just to get rid of it all, and take my chances with the digital music archivists of the internet.  So today, while I was at work, the folks came and took the boxes away.  No fuss no muss - one more step along the road to a clutterfree world.

But right now I am thinking of those hours - days, really, weeks, even years, maybe - I spent listening to all those records and wondering whether I have just given away something I might someday wish I hadn’t forgotten to remember. Or something like that. I don’t want them back. I just don’t quite want them gone, either.

Like the poet said, Time it was and what a time it was, it was.

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