when i was five years old i learned what a record player was. on a sunday, my brother, sisters and i crowded into the spare bedroom of my grandma's house, to turn on the old player she had stored there in a wooden dresser. alan was first to locate the beach boys 'endless summer' album, and within seconds, had the speakers crackling a moment of silence - as we four - made 1993 pause with our anticipation. the voices, surfin’ safari, resonating against pale, dried out wall paper and the mural of sunset in a tropical paradise against the south wall, stirring heavens inside each of our swelling hearts. my sole instincts were to follow, hypnotized, the circular lines of the vinyl, spinning out sounds from a decade beyond us, sounds beyond itself; like the twirling of my ten year old sisters.
so we cried puddles into her front yard and washed our necks and cheeks of the hickeys and the lipstick. i drove home sad, and with more time on my hands, so i self proclaimed that i would listen to more music, but the only tunes beside the christian radio and punk band cd’s that my dad allowed in the house were ironically, his own collection of records, now aged and stored away below the fish tank on the brown, square book shelves framing our living room. i dug through them as my mother yelled about the mess i was making, records and 20 year old dust from between the covers showering the living room carpet and tile. i thumbed passed Johnny Cash, Crosby - Stills - and -Nash, and Wings albums, until Paul Simon struck me, with an upside down chair and mardi gras mask etched colorfully onto a white cover. the name appeared in my father’s collection more than any other, so i asked about it, and when he started with the stories of when and where he'd been while hearing those songs for the first time, i had no other thought than to listen to that album start to finish; but we had no record player in the house so, 'there goes rhymin simon' in hand, i ran down the street, to my grandmother’s house, to look for that old record player of my sunday afternoon childhood. a few minutes of searching, and i found and carefully lifted it out of that same wooden dresser, only by this point the speakers had well worn with age, and no longer played. i was so determined to hear the album, that i found a place on the kitchen floor to plug the record player into, and set the needle down on the first track. i held my cheek as close as i could, cupping my ear to catch a fraction of raw sound. for me, to love something, means knowing that a person i love, loves something. so it went with the songs of Paul Simon.
and it’s been far too long since i played my old records;
but i still remember what a broken one sounds like,
so every time i feel
the needle skipping over my own scratches and scars,
i start to worry if i'll ever make it to the next track.
and it’s delicate,
play me - turn me - hear me - change me -
and be, (as my dad always said)
careful when handling the surfaces.
so only ask me if i love you,
because i do have that one.