Letter From Home 1/26/11


As the day started to slow down I put an album on the stereo.  I lounged on the sofa and listened.  It was more a tribute to a singer than the need to relax and kick back in the early evening. 

The warmth of the LP that oozed from the speakers was more pronounced than just because it was vinyl.  Compact discs never can compare to the musical experience of an album.  But there was more to the music that floated around the room than just another album on the turntable.

Decades ago I placed this album on a record player of my youth and watched it spin countless times.  Tonight the words of the songs flooded back, and certain notes struck deep and hard.

That is what music should do.  Transport the listener somewhere else, outside of themself.

The album “Baby, You’ve Got What It Takes” by Charlie Louvin and Melba Montgomery was played because Louvin died early this morning.  He was one of the old standard bearers of a time when singers were really interested in their fans and made it to the top of the charts based on ability as opposed to slick promotional managing.  I deeply respect that.

The album was one that my mom had in her collection, having bought it about 35 years ago.   A couple of years ago I gathered up all her albums and records and brought them home.  They were after all more a connection between mom and myself than anyone else in the family.

The old record player is one I can see in my mind.  It was one of those where the speakers folded onto the top of the player and it all could be carried like a small suitcase.  The player was never just left out but alway cared for.  Mom folded the wires for the speakers in place and tucked it behind the sofa after each use.

This evening as “Don’t Believe Me” played I thought what mom might say to hear it played in surround sound.  The deep sounds, piano chords and guitar licks make the song a country classic.  She would have loved it. 

As the songs spun the LP needed to be flipped and I thought about the memories music allows for. 

One singer out of Alabama with a desire to do more than pick cotton his whole life.  A woman in Hancock, Wisconsin who liked music and picked up the singer’s album at Tempo or Woolworth’s on a Saturday shopping trip.  A record player that was kept in pristine condition as it brought so much entertainment to the home.  A kid who fell in love with the genre of music that speaks to the central components of life.

They say that singers never die as the music lives on forever.

That is certainly true.  In the case of Charlie Louvin and this album the music was very much alive tonight.

Thank you Charlie.

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