Every record collection has to start somewhere. Mine was born from death. When my aunt Tanya died in her 40s, it hit me like a freight train. Nobody close to me had ever passed away before. Cancer was a new term I had to learn, defined by suffering. My aunt never had children and never got married. She was the free spirit in my family, which was reflected by her taste in music. Postmortem, Tanya introduced me to masterpieces like Carole King’s Tapestry and Simon and Garfunkel’s Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Stories poeticized in melody, comprised of simple phrases and unfettered truths. I had grown up listening to alternative rock and 90s rap where everything seemed I don’t know, complicated.
This music was incredibly complex but radically simple. Love, truth, pain. Concepts impossible to comprehend captured in singularity. Even now, music transgresses time and generations, but it’s different when you can hold media once held by a deceased loved one, especially the anthems of their youth. There’s an intimacy to it; something you can literally feel. Whenever I listen to “You’ve Got a Friend”, I always smile and remember my beloved aunt. It warms my heart. We sing it together. That’s what vinyl does. That’s what it’s supposed to do. It connects us with friends and family whose albums we inherit. It binds strangers in perpetuity as we leaf through each other’s memories with each record store visit. Digital platforms just don’t do it; love versus Love. Seemingly the same but different.