In High Fidelity, the protagonist question is what came first – the music or the misery?
That’s not exactly my question.
My question was where did the interest in music come from?
Did people give me records because I was interested in music?
Or did I become interested in music because people passed off records to me?
I think my interest in music predated having records.
It was something that was always there.
Not just on the alarm clock radio that woke my parents every morning.
It was on their stereo.
It was the jingles on TV.
It was just everywhere.
I couldn’t begin to say what the first song is that I can remember, but it may be this:
I think if I had to try and determine my reaction to it, I was both fascinated and traumatized by it.
Fascinated by it because it was catchy enough that my ears perked up when I heard it and I tried to sing the chorus.
Traumatized because I knew Freda was locked in some grave uncertainty, in the darkness of a lonely room, hoping for a resolution to something I could not comprehend.
Even to this day, I have no idea what transpired in that song.
Lamont Dozier, one of the writers, says it is about two newlyweds working out their differences.
But ‘love me like you tried before’ hints at sexual dysfunction.
None of that would have registered with me then.
It was just something that sounded good, and yet urgent.
I felt for Freda.
I wanted her to be okay.
So I was invested in her well-being, and in the song.
But I also noted that, at a certain point, I didn’t hear that song much anymore.
And that is probably part of what started my interest in records.
Because at some point, it was probably explained to me that songs are only on the radio so long as they are a hit.
When they drop down the charts, they all but disappear.
Well, at the time they seemed to.
And so I learned a valuable lesson.
If you wanted to be able to hear a song on demand, you had to somehow own a copy of it.
And I think that realization planted the seed for collecting records.
I just needed a way to do that as a child.
Fortunately, there were people who would help me get started.