Memory sense is such a weird phenomenon to me. The smell of orange blossoms takes you to your childhood home, a single song soundtracks perhaps a year or a period in your life, the sight of tiddly winks brings you back to summers at Grandmas. All of these sensory stimulations create a deep feeling in the pit of your stomach, an overwhelming sense of the past.
The smell of a record store is one of my strongest memory triggers and for good reason. My favorite childhood memories were so simple and all centered around my dad's vinyl collection. My father had the biggest record collection I have ever seen. I used to sneak into my parents' closet and thumb through row after row, taking in the album covers, the softly worn edges and gently slipping my favorites out of their sleeve. I was amazed at how a record player could pull out such wonderful sounds from a simple ribbed piece of plastic. Many weekend afternoons my dad and I would lay around on the floor of their bedroom listening to album after album. One song would inspire my dad to put on another record by another artist and it went on and on. I could see that my dad loved my shared interest in music and I treasured this time with him. It was something only he and I did, it was ours. We listened to everything: The Beatles, Cheech and Chong , Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Neil Young, Lynard Skynard, Pink Floyd, and many more obscure artists that my dad loved supporting. He shared stories of working at the college radio station, listening to his first records with his own parents, playing certain songs for my mom when they were young and how he didn't realize until years later that the Doobie Brothers was a reference to smoking weed. These moments always ended too quickly.
I envisioned him in the 1970's, working in a little radio station, knowing so many random facts about music and he was my hero. He taught me so much about my favorite songs as we were sprawled out on the floor. He played Skynard's "Sweet Home Alabama" and then immediately played Neil Young's "Southern Man," explaining what the back and forth between the two artists was all about. I have never listened to "Sweet Home Alabama" in the same way! I heard about weird noises with secret messages if certain albums were played at different speeds or backwards. There is so much that can be contained in such a small bit of plastic.
Afternoons in junior high and high school I would usually get home from school before any one else. Often times I ran straight upstairs, pulled out my favorite Fleetwood Mac album, placed it in the player and gently lowered the arm. I danced all around the house to Gold Dust Woman, feeling as free as a bird. I dreamt of living in the 70s, attending Woodstock and buying up records in the height of their popularity. A time when music was used as a means of protest and was actually effective. I still love the gritty sound that vinyl creates, the way a record smells and miss the feeling of the rough carpet on my skin as I lay around getting lost in the music.