Records Of A Life


I just thumbed through the records—vinyl LPs—found in cardboard boxes in my mother’s guest room. An eclectic mix of my childhood and my mother’s musical history—influences that are still with me. Two copies of The Beatles’ Revolver, a Rubber Soul, Beatles ’65, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, Bob Dylan—over and over again Dylan—Blonde on Blonde, Street Legal, Desire, Bringing It All Back Home and a copy of Highway 61 Revisited which I pulled to look at, that photo of him captivates me still. The price tag was still on the cover and immediately fell away when I touched it. It read: LIST PRICE $ 3.79 with a red line through it, then GOODY’S PRICE $2.99. And more. Coltrane, Monk, Parker, Gillespie, The Ornette Coleman Quartet, Frank Zappa, Erik Satie, Yiddish Folksongs, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Holly Near, Tchiachovsky, Mozart, speeches from the United States Presidents’ Series of FDR and JFK. And there are two more boxes.  

I felt moments in music memory flooding me, washing over me in melodic waves. Music is that way. And not just the music itself, but its form, its delivery. Were you moved by the sound for the first time on the radio? The Eagles’ “Hotel California.” A mix tape made with an extra dose of crush/lust? Indigo Girls’ “Closer to Fine.” On your first turntable, on your first LP?

I remember my first LP. Buying it was an event not a keystroke on iTunes. I took the Chestnut Hill Local to Center City.  I had my money. I don’t remember how much, but I’m sure it burned a hole in my pocket—a few ones, a five, maybe even a coveted ten dollar bill, loose change, and a pre-purchased return ticket out of Suburban Station. I walked proudly down Chestnut Street, stopping to make a loop at Wanamaker’s looking longingly at the perfume bottles and makeup. I may have even tried a lipstick, feeling bold. I probably dallied, wanting to savor the event, make it last. When I finally reached Sam Goody’s I found my quarry. I think the section was called simply “Soul” then, maybe “R&B/Soul,” Aaron Levinson would know. There it was, shimmering in its shrink-wrap: Earth Wind & Fire’s That’s The Way Of The World. I held it in my hand, wandered around the store for a few minutes looking at the guitars, other albums I wanted and then I struck. Babysitting money on the counter and I was the proud owner of that music. I owned it.

“That’s The Way Of The World” remains one of my favorite EWF songs today. And, despite the changes, growth, evolution of my musical tastes, remains one of my favorite songs of all time because of how it came in to my life. And my life is now 3,000 miles across the country with the musical influences to reflect time, geography, age. But the records of my life began decades ago in Philly and are marked like scratches on vinyl, musical notes strung together to create song—and memory.


  1. Thanks for helping to dust off an old memory.

    Mine was Breakfast in America by Supertramp, it was Peaches Records on 45th in Seattle, though I have more memories of Tower Records on University Avenue, walking the aisles, flipping through all of the albums.

    I also remember the entire experience, though I don’t think there was any lipstick involved. Do they really let you just try it and then you put it back if you don’t like it?

    There are so many things from our increasingly distant childhoods that our kids will never know, from busy signals (and dial tones), letters, to record players, heck with all of the velcro shoes now even tying shoes is becoming edgy.

    Good post. Thanks


    • Jenny Kanevsky says:

      Glad you liked it Ric. As for the lipstick, yes, they let you try it. Not the actual stick, you scrape some off on a Q-tip or something. Then, I think you could even just put some on your finger and try it. Now, they bust out the Hazmat gear to sanitize it first, and after. As for Velcro, yes, it’s true. Shoelaces are obsolete, it seems.


  2. Whoa, you’ve been busy! You are such an amazing writer. These columns are so entertaining to read!


  3. heartwriter says:

    I thought I was the only person in the world whose first album was Supertramp’s Breakfast in America. Pretty sure purchased at Auroa Village.

    Jenny, one of your best pieces I have read.

    Music for me…makes the world make sense.


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