A few months back I overheard a woman say to her teenage daughter that the only explanation for why people still buy records is nostalgia, especially given that the “sound quality” of vinyl isn’t as good as more modern media. It’s a surreal experience to be so suddenly overcome by the inexplicable urge to punch a stranger in the throat. Perhaps, its what Nick Hornby describes as “music rage, which”, as Hornby explains, “is like road rage, only more righteous.” He says that “When you get road rage, a tiny part of you knows you’re being a jerk but when you get music rage, you’re carrying out the will of God, and God wants these people dead.”
But, I suppose the trick to living more mindfully is quietly observing the eccentricities of the human mind as they arise in the daily experience of consciousness rather than acting on them. I tried to watch as the fury came forward and I did my best to simply watch as it passed.
Maybe she has a point. Maybe there is an element of nostalgia involved. But, vinyl’s heyday was before my time, and its kind of hard to be nostalgic for an era I wasn’t even around for. For me, I think it is a matter of ‘sound quality’, that is, it’s about the qualities that are intrinsic to the sound of a record.
Perhaps the sound is neither more pure nor more pristine, but it has more personality, it is more personable. Perhaps, even more person-like. When I listen to a record I get a deeper sense of people holding space together to make music come to life. Records are alive. Vinyl breathes. It whispers and hums. It sounds like the energy of the room the music was made in. And, in the midst of a record’s spin the music itself becomes a living entity with a presence and a pulse.
One of the best gifts I’ve ever received is a limited edition printing of “August and Everything After” by the Counting Crows, inarguably one of the best albums of all time by one of the best bands of all time. I mean…you can try to argue, but unless you’re prepared to witness and endure a nearly forty-year-old man stick his fingers in his ears and shout “I’m not listening!!”, I would advise against it.
I sat reveling in the record recently, listening to the warm crackle of comfort that can only come from a turntable’s needle riding along the groove of where music meets the merger of memory mingling with the present moment. I thought about how apt the title of the album is, especially as it pertains to the person and circumstances that made this moment possible.
21 days into the month of August, in one seemingly serendipitous moment, in the warm auburn glow of the otherly and the unexpected, two crooked paths crossed in a flash and everything after became something new.
It’s funny how such a fleeting aside can serve as the foundation for something so unfathomably and ineffably more, but that’s what happened. A conversation started that shows no signs of stopping. A connection formed that spilled out and spilled over everything.
Sometimes the miracle of miracles is the way one comment can set off a chain of events that alter our understanding of everything we thought we so clearly knew to be true. Somedays people suck and you’re trying your best to watch your breath instead of going into a blackout rage of self-righteous throat punching. But, other days, people surprise you in ways that can’t even be put into words. You meet someone who makes you feel more safe, more sound. Someone that puts you more in touch with the whispering hum of your own presence and pulse. Someone who changes your life in inalterable ways.
Of the many-splendored things that come with being human, one of the the most splendid moments of really fucking magical, top-shelf, good shit, is when you meet someone that makes you wonder how you were ever able to live so long without them. I may not know what comes next but, I know that the rest of my days will be a record of that August and everything that came after…