Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tattered Songs

        When she was a very young girl, she would sneak under the TV stand and pull out the bulking briefcases her father kept hidden there. Except, upon further inspection, they were not briefcases at all, but cases designed to hold cassette tapes. She would rifle through them in awe, memorizing the names and the pictures on the faded covers: Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Van Morrison, Creedence Clearwater Revival. She couldn’t always match up the names on the dusty cases to the music she heard, but she always remembered their songs.

          When she was six years old, her father traded in his big black truck for a shiny new red one. She was sad to see the old truck go, but her father knew the perfect words to reassure her. “Just wait,” he said, “this new truck can play CDs! You’ll be able to put on headphones and plays albums in the back while I turn on the radio up front.” Unlike the cassette tapes, she didn’t know the names of the CDs she heard, but she memorized each album, front to back. Years later, she would come to know the names of the artists she sang with on long road trips: Cheap Trick, 38 Special, the Eagles, and Bob Seger with his Silver Bullet Band.

            When Christmas came around a few years later, she unwrapped a small present that looked like a USB flash drive before realizing she had been gifted her first music player. Not wanting his daughter to commit her first felony at the age of 9, her father allowed her to create lists of songs that he would later download from programs on his computer; programs he forbade her to use. By looking over his shoulder and with a little bit of trial and error, however, she accessed his immense file collection and added new artists to her own library: Guns N Roses, Metallica, Green Day, Iron Maiden, Weezer.

            When she turned 15, she began to collect vinyl records. She dug out her parents’ old turntable and dug through their collections, plucking out albums to add to her own small stack: Foreigner, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC. When she moved away from home, her parents reclaimed their albums, snatching them from her piles of records that now greatly outnumbered theirs. She was saddened to see those records go but, much like the cassette tapes, she will never forget the names and pictures on their worn, tattered covers. She will always remember their songs.

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