Spinning vinyl is an act of meditation for me. I am only three months into my monthly residency at Johnny Brenda’s and I feel as though I am finding my center behind the perch of the DJ booth looking out onto people, pool sticks, and passing of time. This last Monday, in addition to the Christmas music I had planned for the evening, it was a lunar eclipse, and a selection of moon songs were gathered in the hodge podge of cardboard boxes I use to clumsily carry my records.
Moon songs come around fairly often over time. It’s a right of passage for someone that writes songs. You could treat it like you are roping a steer, or maybe more like gathering wind. A little of both. We confide in the moon with our loneliness, our desires known and also hidden, and go to it when everyone else is reasoning and we want undoing. But the moon’s undoing is really marked by a grand scheme of planetary order. I’ve been really intrigued lately about this moon club.
Christmas is in my blood. My father, who I’ve mentioned before in earlier posts, is Polish, and the city of Krakow, Poland is known to be the Christmas capitol of the world. I still write letters to Santa, and my mother has archived the evolution of the dialogue that happens between us in a scrapbook she keeps in a writing desk in the living room. We express a lot about the shifting of our lives, wants that have ranged from some large bungling toy to hoping lost family members will find themselves. This too is a meditation for me.
The amount of information we are expected to consume as a normal amount anymore is really getting to me and I’ve become disturbingly fascinated with how our brains and memories are changing in how we process all this information. Spinning records allows me to focus. I’ve found myself more and more on many occasions hearing something either in a public or private place and asking, “What is this?” and the person looking at me and saying, “Oh I don’t know, it’s in my playlists, I got a bunch of stuff on there.” This concerns me. Not only because it taps out on some level to the art that is moving them but also because it creates a disconnect from the creator and the work involved. If I play a record by Los Lobos and you’ve never heard Los Lobos and it turns out you freakin’ love Los Lobos after that, then by all means be aware, seek out Los Lobos, and discover more of what they do. It’s a means to connect the dots. We are just as much constellations as the creatures we’ve woven into the stars, so let the man in the moon look down on us and see our mystical lineage. Let him peer through the round wreath on the high frosted window at the end of the bar, through the lucid lights coloring the pints of beer, and enjoy the songs in his and all of ours honor. Cause really, all this music and those that make it are trying to do is give this existence some honor. It’s startling these days how there is such a lack of care for life. Everyday, in everything I do, I’m trying to counteract this disregard.
The night brought visitations from friends and strangers all confiding in me through songs that sparked memories. Remembrances of childhood, of trips, of old lovers. It is no coincidence that they are called records and not files or downloads. Even the language associated with vinyl connotates romancing and dreaming whereas the digital era has not been able to find such rounded verbiage. Into the a.m. the bartender excitedly ran out and back in to exclaim that is was happening, that the eclipse was beginning and things were changing so much so that a clear distinction was upon us. I peered out my icy porthole to see the change, a night where both science and spirits were weaving their glorious patterns and laughing at the folks who deem the two enemies.
I saw the bar empty and played things in regard to the emptiness. The two bartenders set the pool balls and cracked a game, satisfied with the nights ending. I put on Elvis singing Peace in the Valley, and thought of how wide the valley is here. I wonder if all those country songs about lowlands were talking about a place like Philly? There are no mountains as far as the eye can see. Sometimes I don’t even think they had ever imagined such a huge broken valley in those songs.
The fragile existence of all of us alongside each other is overwhelming but it has made me feel no other option except to be a healer. To honor and to be honored. To acknowledge the gathering of all these stars, both sky and earthbound for glory.