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Monday, February 23, 2009

Series of Firsts: First Record Player

Being an introvert growing up, I had a hard time expressing myself. In high school, I began to let everything out via the pen. Before that, there was music.

We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but somehow my mom always made ends meet. She even gave my sister and I an allowance. When I wasn’t spending mine on baseball cards, I was spending it on albums or 45s. I bought a crazy cross-section of music, from Olivia Newton John to Aerosmith.

When I was probably 10 or so, my mom bought me a record player. I can’t tell you what brand it was, but I can picture it clearly in my mind. The record player and speakers sat in a case that looked a little like a goal post on a high school football field. The record player was on top and the speakers were on the bottom.

Listening to music on that record player helped me connect with the world and it gave me hope for breaking out of my shell one day. One song I listened to over and over was “Boats Against the Current” by Olivia Newton John. I haven’t heard the song in decades, but I can still recite all of the lyrics. Here’s a taste:

I was a dreamer
You were a dreamer
But perfection is consuming
And it seems we're only human after all
And we’ve both been takin’ the fall
But tomorrow
We’ll run a little bit faster
We're gonna find what we’re after at last

Sometimes, I’d take the speakers out of the case and I’d lie on my back in my bedroom. Then I’d move the speakers up close to my ears and I’d get lost in the music. I used to do that with Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” I could sing right along with Steven Tyler:

Every time I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It goes by, like dusk to dawn
Isn't that the way
Everybody's got their dues in life to pay

I don’t know why, but people didn’t really use headphones in those days. One of my cousins had a really expensive pair (they were huge), but I never really even considered buying a pair. As you can imagine, that led to my mom telling my to turn my music down on more than one occasion.

I was already a reader at that point, but my record player opened me up even further to the power of the arts. Of course, that doesn’t always mean a person is going to be influenced in a positive way, but I tended to gravitate toward motivational, introspective music that pushed me out into the world. And that was a good thing.


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