Passing It Along

“You know,” said Viv, “I thought about you the other day. We were in this music shop in Owatonna, and the records they had . . .”

Viv is the administrative assistant at Salem Lutheran Church here in St. Cloud, the church our family attended while I was growing up and where my mother is still a member. It’s difficult for Mom to get to church regularly, so she listens to the service on a weekly radio broadcast. And every year, Mom sponsors two of the weekly radio broadcasts, usually those closest to October 18, my dad’s birthday, and to July 17, the date they were married in 1948.

I was at Salem last week to drop off Mom’s check for those two broadcasts when Viv told me of her record digging in Owatonna, a city about sixty-five miles south of Minneapolis. Viv and I have talked a lot about music in the past ten years, when I began stopping by Salem on a regular basis to either drop off a check or to get the latest edition of a quarterly devotional booklet for Mom. We’ve talked about a lot of other stuff – pets, cooking, current events, life in general – but we almost always get around to music during our conversations.

“The one thing they didn’t have there,” Viv said, “was Pink Floyd. I asked the manager, and he said that any Pink Floyd vinyl that comes in goes out almost as quickly. That was disappointing.”

“Which Floyd album were you looking for?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Any of them,” she said. “I don’t have any Pink Floyd.”

I have some Floyd on the digital shelves, and I offered to bring her a couple CD’s worth of Pink Floyd’s work, including Dark Side of the Moon ripped as one long mp3.

“That would be great!” she said. “Let me see if I can find some blank CDs, and we can trade.”

We left it at that, and I went home and took up the task of ripping to a higher bit rate a collection of Mississippi John Hurt recordings from 1928 and tagging the resulting mp3s. As I did, I took a quick look at the digital Pink Floyd inventory.

And then I had another thought, so I went to the physical shelves, where I found six Pink Floyd LPs: Ummagumma, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall, and A Momentary Lapse of Reason. The only one of them that held anything beyond musical interest was Dark Side, because it was part of the soundtrack to my long ago days in Fredericia, Denmark. And had the LP in my hands been the first vinyl copy I’d ever owned of Dark Side, there would have been a tug because Mom bought it for me and because it connected me, however vaguely, to May Day 1975 and a note from the lovely Anne.

But that copy of Dark Side is gone, replaced in 1993 after it began to wear out, and I have the album on CD. As to the other Pink Floyd LPs, if I want any of the music I don’t already have digitally, all are available from the public library. And as I’ve noted here before, I do need to trim down the vinyl.

I put the six LPs in a grocery bag and left it at the dining room table. I got back to Salem Tuesday, taking Mom to attend the funeral of a long-time member of the St. Cloud State Faculty Wives & Women. After Mom got settled, I went into Viv’s office. She pulled a CDR out of a drawer. “Will this work?”

“Well, yes,” I said, “but take a look at this.” I handed her the bag, and she began to pull albums out. As she did, I recognized the expression on her face: The look of vinyl dreams come true.

“How much do you want?” she asked, looking up from the open gatefold of Dark Side of the Moon.

I shook my head. “They’re yours.”

“Oh,” she said, “I think I’m going to cry. And I can hardly wait to get home now!”

That was payment better than money.

And I could easily post “Money” from Dark Side here, but it’s too obvious, and the same holds true for the various covers I have of the tune. So I’ll slide back a little, heading from the first track on what was Side Two of Dark Side to the last track on what was Side One, the majestic “The Great Gig in the Sky.” Here’s how Mary Fahl, former lead singer of October Project, offered it on her 2006 tribute album From the Dark Side of the Moon.

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One Response to “Passing It Along”

  1. Jeff says:

    Just as it was more fun for the kid with the red bag to have that J. Geils red vinyl.

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