I recently uncovered an old box full of albums from 30 years ago, before CDs. I dusted off the turntable and fired it up after a few minor repairs to my stereo wiring. It turns out I was really good about taking care of my vinyl and most of these records are in pristine condition. Pristine for vinyl means they don’t skip and the pops aren’t too annoying but the sound quality is unique and wonderful in a way digital can’t touch.
Maybe it’s just the memories that each song evokes, as I listen to music that interrupted my studies in college and changed my life forever. It was 40 years ago this fall that I started college and was introduced to a plethora of musical tastes ranging from Traffic’s Low Spark of High Heeled Boys to James Taylor’s Mud Slide Slim and Neil Young’s Harvest. These albums still represent a mystical time for me when music was my constant companion and my chief source of entertainment, other than chasing girls. It turns out, the songs I remember vividly, the girls not so much. Maybe that’s because music is always there for you, no matter what.
In those days, we had to work at keeping the musical library in good shape by cleaning each album and putting it back in its place but album maintenance was much easier than maintaining a relationship with a college girl. Of course, alcohol doesn’t really lend itself to meaningful conversations like the ones I had with James Taylor as he sang, You’ve got a friend “If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds and that old north wind should begin to blow, keep your head together and call my name out loud and soon I will be knocking at your door.” That was incredibly reassuring to me and kept me going through many tough times. Or when Jim Croce sang “I’ll have to say I love you in a song”, it made me realize how important it was to share my appreciation for my friends.
College is a time when you come into your own as a person and as a friend to others. Freshman year can be painfully lonely for those among us who have trouble expressing their feelings for others and I suffered from that a lot that year. I dated lots of girls but I wasn’t good at anything deeper because I was just too protective of my feelings. Music helped me break down the walls of inhibition that kept me from growing up and discovering the joy that was to be found in relationships. Cat Stevens made me face myself when he sang, “maybe you’re right or maybe you’re wrong, but I can’t think about it no more, I done it far too long.” There is so much wisdom to be gained from listening to great songwriters tell stories with words and music that finds its way into your heart and stays there forever. I feel blessed to have been alive in that era of music.
So now, as I approach the twilight of my life, I find newfound reassurance in the songs of my youth and the lessons that stuck with me all those years. Life is precious and my relationships with friends and family are really the only things that matter to me. As each year passes and my relationships pass on I will have to try even harder to open up about how I really feel towards all of you. I hope you all know how much you mean to me, especially my wife Carol and my kids Tom and Lauren but honestly the number of people I need to say “thank you” to is almost endless so I will just have to leave you with this one verse, “Every time I tried to tell you, the words just came out wrong, so I’ll have to say I love you in a song.” Thanks for everything.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.