Sunday, February 8, 2009

Put Your Records On

February 8th, 2009
Sunday Evening, 11:31 PM

Today is my birthday. Exactly 37 years ago, at 11:31 PM, under the light of a new full moon, I came into this world. My mother and father tried for 5 years to have a baby, and after all of that effort, they had me. Not sure who the lucky one is in that equation, maybe we all are. What I do know is that today, my birthday, will be different then all of the ones before.

Today will be the first time I will celebrate my birthday without some of my best friends around. No early morning calls wishing me the best. No "Brendan!" in that deep, fake, dramatic voice calling to wish me well. No quirky, snarky warm soul offering love & hope from miles away. Not today, and maybe never again. That's why this birthday does feel different in many ways.

Time is relative "they" say. Time is what you make of it. Do I feel 37? Who knows? What does a number feel like? I know one thing, I do not feel 13 or 20. I am older(obviously) and wiser then those incarnations of Brendan James Ferry Noone. I feel older, but not that old. I feel confident and comfortable in my own skin, if that means anything. Most of all, I feel like me. But a part of me does feel like something is missing today and I guess it always will from now on.

See, in my most recent assessment, it's half-time in my life. Hopefully this is my median age. I'll take living to 74, that sounds like a good, round number. Plus, I read this really disturbing article this weekend about Ray Kurzweil an inventor and futurist. Kurzweil believes that there will be a technology rapture by the year 2045, when he says that computers will surpass humans in intelligence. This article about knocked me out of my chair and solidified my 74
hypothesis and aspiration. Hopefully I can spend the next 37 years, before the "Singularity" as Kurzweil calls it, comfortable in my own human skin. I am ready for the challenge, just not ready for the war with the computers.

See, I would rather keep things simple. I would rather let the world spin, with flips and turns and me on board for the ride, taking in the sights and sounds and giving back. I liken this simplicity to one of the birthday gifts I received to from the girls, a record. Allow me to explain.

A little over 3 years ago, during a trip to Italy to see my in-laws, my father-in-law, this great combination of, half cosmopolitan, half old-world Italian, all knowing wisdom, offered me to take anything that I would like from his 50 year old record collection. Wow. This was like winning a shopping spree at Rough Trade Records in Notting Hill, London (my favorite record store in the world). He had everything. Jazz, R&B, Rock, Disco, you name it. His selection was in English and Italian and Portuguese, representing the many places he has lived around this great wide world. And did I say he had everything.

During that shopping spree I picked up the beginning of a great record collection and I also started a rewarding hobby. Thanks to my father-in-law, I have first editions of, The Stones "Exile On Main St.", Stevie Wonder's "Songs In The Key Of Life", Sinatra's "Come Fly With Me", Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay", Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and the Italian version of "Meet the Beatles" called "I Favolosi Beatles". Not a bad start to my new hobby.

Since that glorious day, I have added to my collection and have been buying a couple of LP's every other month. The surprising thing is, so has the American public. Little did I know that during my own private LP reawakening, LP sales were skyrocketing. According to SoundScan, the music-sales tracking company, sales of LP's increased by 89% in 2008 compared with the previous year. This was the only segment of the entire music industry which grew in sales last year. I guess its hard to download vinyl.

See, I love the LP experience, the artwork (I have my desert island covers hanging on the walls of my home office), the grooves, the clicks, and the overall sound that vinyl provides. The music sounds fuller and in my mind the experience is complete. With an LP you tend to let the side play out as intended. This is completely different then the current iPod experience of shuffles and skip counts and playlist. All in all, the experience is not compromised; it is generally what the artist and producer slaved over and planned out in the studio.

So what does my hobby of record collecting have to do with turning 37? Good question.

It all goes back to one of the gifts my girls gave me this morning for my birthday, The Beatles LP, "Abbey Road". Vibrant, my youngest daughter, likes the cover/artwork because it reminds her of the game we play when we cross the road in New York City (even though the Fab Four are waking across a London street on the cover) and Lovable, my oldest, likes the music on side two, especially Ringo's drums in the song "The End". I am partial to the second side of the album as well since it was really the last studio album the band worked on together. I love the song vignettes, or as uber-Beatles fans call it "the medley" that Paul and John play out during the final 16 minutes of the album. Is it the best Beatles Album? No, in my mind that goes to "Revolver" (sorry Pepper's but you are just a Paul album with John trumping you in the end with "A Day in the Life").

To me "Abbey Road" is like life. The first half has some stellar moments (i.e. Come Together, Oh! Darling), but by Beatles standards, Side One on a whole is disjointed, much like the first half of ones life. Everyone has moments in early life like George Harrison's "Something", sweeping, epic journeys of love and lust and bliss. They last for periods of time, offering growth and experience, but most of the time they come crashing down like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" right after. Hey who said life was fair? For every gratifying "Oh! Darling", there is a tragic "Octopus's Garden" (sorry Ringo). It's all about the ebb and flow of learning how to grown in ones own skin, ones own mind. To me the first half of your life is just like the first 23 minutes of "Abbey Road"; solid, but there are bigger and better things to come....

Time to get up, and flip the record over, on to Side Two.

If Side One is the first 36 years of my life, then Side Two starts today. Hopefully this first year of the rest of my life will start as strong as Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun", with its lush harmonies and plush guitars. So far, for me, 2009 has been as strong. Work is going well, my new home & our roots are becoming more firm, I have been exercising more, even taking up Yoga to help me calm down and round out my work out routine. Hopefully, my 40s will ring in with the balance and calm of "Because". Hopefully the rest of my life will play out like "the medley", that 16 minute climax, with recurring themes, short spurts of songs, finished and unfinished, about love, money and the end, just like life. Hopefully life will have, twist,turns, grooves and endless spins just like the LP.

Hopefully, the girls will buy me "Revolver" next year and I can keep working on my collection, always striving for it to be bigger and better and more complete. Just like life and the next 37.

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