Keep Spinning

Jonathan Brooks

When I listen closely enough, I can find those I love in music. The specific song in the precise moment brings memories back in the soundtrack of the story of my life thus far. A great soundtrack to a life lived with excellence is a good thing. It’s a remarkably good thing. A moment following another moment makes up our lives. Today is today until -it becomes yesterday. Yesterday is yesterday until it becomes a month ago. Months move into years, into decades upon decades. I’m growing sentimental here just pondering how fast time flies by and how not all of us make the most of our moments. I’m one of the few though. Yeah, I’m one of those that lives in the moment. I just placed a Louis Armstrong record on my turntable, put my headphones on, closed my eyes and discovered someone I loved and continue to love.

My grandfather gave me the most amazing of gifts for my fifteenth birthday. He’d been a music fan all of his days. Records were it for him. Yes, vinyl records! The cassette tape couldn’t compare. The CD was invented for the youngsters, in his opinion. Grandpa was a classic like the classic records he collected. Yeah, on my fifteenth birthday, in that summer of my young, young youth, he gifted this kid his entire collection of vinyl records.

I was overjoyed! I couldn’t speak at first. The present came alongside six of those wooden crates that are famous for holding records. Each crate held around 50 vinyl records. I’d just received around 300 adventures in music. The record player I had attained half a year earlier as a Christmas present could be put to use. Although my collection was only up to around 10 albums, all in an afternoon, thanks to my grandfather, I had different vinyl for almost each new day of the year. It was the most thoughtful gift from the most thoughtful of men.

Louis Armstrong believed in and sang about a wonderful world. That song gets to me in the best sort of way. Truly, there’s so much damned ugly in our universe, if we are being honest and telling the whole story. But Louis had the heart and wisdom to see the world, and universe perhaps, as something wonderful. If that isn’t beautiful then I just don’t know what is. It takes a special soul to see beyond the ugly in life. My grandfather was that sort of soul. If grandpa and Mr. Armstrong had ever met, their
souls would’ve smiled warmly and their friendship would’ve been instantaneous. I am no know-it-all, but I know that is one hundred percent accurate.

Old grandpa loved what my mom has always referred to as the oldies. Of course now those oldies are more like the ancients, I suppose. Kids these days think the old music happened in the 1990’s. This line of thinking makes me think they don’t know their assholes from donut holes. That’s harsh, though. I shouldn’t be that way. Really, they are simply 20 years younger than I am. Give them a couple of decades, and their thinking on pretty much everything will change. God bless the innocent imaginations and poor music history knowledge of the youth.

To hear the man discuss Buddy Holly, you would think the two of them were dear buddies. One time, I was convinced he must’ve been related to us somehow. There were several Buddy Holly records in the collection. Grandfather said that Billy Joel claimed, in a song, that only good people die young. Then he went on to proclaim that Buddy Holly must’ve been one of the truly good souls. Grandpa explained to nine-year-old me that Mr. Holly died real young in a really tragic plane crash. He also told me Don McLean sang about it in one of the most famous songs of all time. “American Pie” is the name of that tune. Granddad told m it made him cry the first time he experienced it. Yeah, I always listened to stories like these with fire in my soul. To think of him crying ‘cause of a song made me want to cry also.

Sam Cooke was another of his favorite musicians. He said Sam was another great singer and good guy that passed away too young. When I asked him what happened to Sam Cooke, he told me we could discuss it when I was a little older. Grandpa said it was damned sad and that our world had, has, and will always have evil in it. I listened intently while not comprehending the whole conversation. I’ve listened to Sam Cooke’s albums dozens of times each, and they never grow old or boring. Mr. Cooke was a unique talent. May he live forever through his music.

The Beach Boys were a group he tuned me into. In his opinion, they were a bit overrated, but still pretty damn good. Surfing songs were never my grandfather’s favorites, and summer was never his most beloved season. Although, he stated that the song “God Only Knows” was a greater song than all those silly summer songs combined. Granddad claimed that was in his all-time Top 20 Favorite Songs. Now, I’m no surfer, but I do like those summer songs. Fun, fun, and more fun is what I aim toward in the story of my life. Brian Wilson and his beach boy buddies, I believe, would approve.

So here I am at the age of 35. I’m old enough to appreciate wonderful music and I’m even of age to run for president, but I’d rather listen to music and watch the vinyl spin round and round than mess with the horror of politics. My vinyl collection is now over 500 strong. I just know old grandpa would be so proud. He passed away around 10 years ago. Sometimes, it seems like yesterday and other days it feels like a lifetime ago. I do not live in the past, but I am a sentimental soul. I love looking back when what it brings me is happiness and joy. My grandfather always brought joy with him to the turntable and his stories.

The man had the greatest last lines when he was dying in the hospital. It was his final night under the moon. Before I left the hospital that evening, he had this to say:

“Keep spinning, Jonah. Keep spinning the records and keep spinning yourself. There’s a whole lot of sad and ugly out there in our universe. You’re one of the wise ones though. So I know you won’t settle. Yeah, you won’t settle for the misery or the melancholy or the pain or the damned nonsense. You’ll find your wonderful world and you’ll even help make the world of others more and more wonderful. Spin on and on and on. Don’t let anyone ever tell you not to spin. You are one of the beautiful ones and I love you. Now get on out of here for the night and go home. Hopefully I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I’ll always keep spinning.