Carefully, I place the record onto the stem. Swinging the plastic arm into place above the turntable, it holds the vinyl steady and flat. I click the switch into auto and wait. Nothing. Hoping now, I click again. This time I am rewarded with a refreshing slap as the album is released and the lever begins its shift toward the first track. Noticing that the table is spinning very slowly i give it a bit of a whirl with my finger and the tiny motor, finding this agreeable, takes over. From the moment the needle makes contact, the speakers begin to crackle and I am turning knobs to adjust volume and tone as the time of day may dictate.
We have just inherited a family heirloom.
"You've gotta give this tune a chance" I say as the kids moan their disapproval from the first, unfamilar, notes.
"We do?" Calvin protests.
"Just wait, man, this is beautiful"
I laugh, remembering myself at ten years old, uttering a similar remark to my mom. She and Aunt Sue would spin big band numbers from my grandparents collection. My Grandmother would laugh and tell us stories as the songs jogged her memories free. They would coax us off the couch and soon we'd all be dancing. Together. I remember Sue would sneak records from her collection into the mix and I learned about Meatloaf and wondered why a baseball announcer came on in the middle of the song. "Well", Grammie would say, "I don't know if I would call THIS music!!"
We danced and laughed and nobody ever told us to stop or to be quiet but, if we jumped too hard, the record would skip.
The song begins to pop and the kids join us to slide and shake and hop to the beats. We smile and act crazy and everyone is infected and carefree, if only for the moment. For that moment, Elvis is 25 years old and his hips are flyin'. Hendrix is alive, playing his Strat like it was born into his hands. From Billie Holiday to Frank Sinatra, Neil Young to the Bee Gees, Beck to Bach, we let the music move within us and then come pouring out. The table turns and the speakers pulse and vibrate this old house.
We welcome the past into our present. It does not seem an inconvenience to press auto twice and give the motor a small push to get it going. Once it moves, it begins to tell stories.
Memories, songs, carrying on.