i’m writing this while listening to a song that i listened to in 1999— 10 long and tumultuous years ago. it’s the next to last song on an album that was with me everywhere i went. it was purchased when mp3s were in their infancy.
the first time i heard the first single from this disc was on a sunny april morning, 6:30am. My clock radio went off and i heard it. just like that. it was new music from my favorite band. it was on the radio! the first time i heard it was on the radio. can anyone say that today? today you hear everything on the net. stuff just doesn’t happen. you’re not surprised. you go to look for it or it’s emailed to you. you don’t wake up to it. hearing something for the first time like this is special, exciting. you can’t hit the back button again, you can’t reload the page, you can’t take it with you wherever you go—you have one shot, one specific moment to get it. after that, you just wait for the radio to play it again.
in fact, i specifically remember driving across town to a mom and pop music shop (remember those?) to get this cd on my 25 minute lunch break.
i put the over priced disc (i think it was $16.99) on the sticker covered counter, ready to fork over what was the equivalent of about two hours pay (after taxes, maybe three), hoping that what was on that light blue and pink disc would do something to me… if not increase my consciousness of my oneness of the universe at least let me bob my head to a familiar, yet unfamiliar beat.
the clerk said, “wow, i didn’t know we had more than one of these…”
not sure what he meant by that. but whatever.
i didn’t have a disc player in my car at the time. hell, i didn’t even have a horn— and the floors in the back seat area were completely rotted out… the only thing between my passengers feet and 55mph asphalt was a thin, red, dirty, factory installed piece of carpet. good times.
my friend dave and i listened to that entire cd that night… from beginning to end. never skipped a track…in fact, i think i may have recorded a copy of the album on audio tape for him. no burning, no file transfer— just some not-so-hi-speed dubbing.
that was a time where i thought i wanted to be a musician…that the art thing would be a side thing to my spotlight aspirations. we learned how to play at least half the songs on that album. just acoustic guitar, bass and voice. it felt good to play those songs… even if we weren‘t the best or even average…it made us feel good.
my friend and i ended up seeing this band play three times that year. drove 100 miles to see them in a smoky dive in albany, were willing to streak down a busy street to get tickets to see them a second time, and paid way too much for tickets to see them in a showroom. they were the band we’d form if we were to ever form a band.
i think about all that stuff when i listen to this music… of course that cd i bought that april day is missing…lost in the moving boxes that constituted the last two years of my life…i’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth saying again… earbuds pumping electronic files from a laptop will never be the same as listening to an audio tape in your car stereo, driving with all your windows down on a sunny, 65 degree late spring day. the quality of the sound is not audiophile level, but the experience is uplifting—wind blowing through the car, the smell of fresh cut grass, every cloud in the sky is fluffy white and following you down the highway.
it’s ten years later and i don’t do that nearly as much as i used to. i pick up my guitars every now and then to play those songs we learned that summer of 1999, but lately all i seem to pick up is a pen. or a pencil.
ten years is a long time. i wish it was 65 degrees out today… i think i need to drive.