I’ll admit an odd fetish. I love record stores. Now I don’t buy any records, but I love music and love the smell and feel of a true record shop. There is something truly nostalgic for me in these little havens…they are a piece of my history. My record buying years were 1984 through 1988 and then along came CDs. But my jam was new wave, alternative and a little classic rock.
The first record I ever bought? Saturday Night Fever. I made better choices from there.
I wish I still had a record player. But then again I don’t, because I don’t want to buy the records again of the ones I owned, then sold, then bought the CDs of, just to buy them again. But I can capture images of these temples of music history. And I do. Even if the crazy old man behind the counter is giving me the evil eye (although I asked him if I could). I like to capture that feeling of nostalgia.
Only someone who really loves music would love to be in a place like that, or even make the effort to go into one.
A few weeks ago I was driving down a main drag of my city and thought I would stop in and finally see this record store I’d noticed a dozen times before. When I went in, the owner was sitting on the couch, no one else in the store. Kind of a boutique place. He even turned on the music when I came in. I asked if I could take a few photos and he gave permission. I did for about 10 minutes, then asked a question about ska music.
I didn’t realize how long the conversation would become.
It was only at the end of the 45-minute conversation that I asked his name. By then I felt like I knew him, like I wanted to be his friend. Because he drew me in with his passion.
Brook’s store caters to a very select section of the music market: jazz, soul, island, vintage r&b. He explained that he has scoured the world to find the rarest and best in those genres. He doesn’t mind paying a premium for a rare find, and he doesn’t mind if it sits on his shelf for a long time until it finds the right owner who will truly appreciate it.
I listened mostly as a music lover shared an insider’s view of the history of recordings and the degrading quality over time. He described how digital re-mastering has taken the beauty out of the music. I was in awe of how Brook described the difference in sound in a modern recording from an old school one. A cymbal beat in a modern or re-mastered recording would sound like a “Tssssss” as opposed to one you would hear on one of his records lasting richly longer…”Tssssssssssssssssssss s s s s s .” His hands drew out the full length of the sound. Oh how he loved the old recordings. The old recordings held the true, undeteriorated sound.
“Today’s music sucks!” he declares. (A different word was used quite liberally.) I was in the presence of an aficionado. Brook has probably listened to most everything in the history of those genres, from nationally known to regional and local musicians. People you’ve never heard of and never will. He could say with authority what was the best, what was the worst, and why on each. So respected is he in the music field he is interviewed on podcasts and brought in to DJ fancy events. He knows music. He is an insider because he has experienced every downbeat and trumpet blast. He speaks as a guardian of what is pure and perfect.
I learned a lot from that conversation. Even though my music interests are in different arenas, I really respected the insider’s view he gave me a glimpse of. As I listened, I couldn’t help but admire the view from his perspective. And it made me think about faith.
There is so much mumbo jumbo out there about faith and the person of Jesus and the state of Christianity in the world. So much about it is negative. And that is only natural to assume since even Christians don’t live up to the standards they profess. I’ll admit that I follow Jesus and I don’t always live out with consistency the principles of my faith. Then again, I’m glad Christianity isn’t based on my example. So I guess an insider’s view into faith has more authority than me. Let me defer to one.
In the Gospel of Matthew 16:13-20 Jesus has a discussion with his followers about who people think he is. Then he gets point blank. “Who do you say I am?” he asks. Peter claps back, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responds, “Blessed are you, Simon, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”
You see, Peter and the others had spent 2.5 years, day in and day out with this Jesus dude. They saw his every move, every sneeze, every snicker, every sigh. They saw the consistency he lived out. They saw his kindness even when he was tired, how he always welcomed children, how he snuck away to pray, how he loved the outcasts, how he sneered at the pious, and how he was their (the disciples) friend. It must have been amazing to watch. I’m jealous. They saw his every downbeat, heartbeat and heartache, upbeat or not. They were insider’s to the real story.
But I’m sure they still had questions. Not every question was answered. Jesus told stories, called parables, to the masses, but gave deeper insight to his followers. He gave them back stage access to his life.
But he was different than they expected. A Jewish mindset would have assumed the Messiah would be a kick-butt military activist, but Jesus was different. He washed the disciples feet at his last meal. He had time for everyone. He loved people and never treated anyone with contempt (except the religious leaders). And then he died, on a Roman execution rack, and they didn’t understand. How could this be the Messiah we thought? It was only after the resurrection that it all made sense. Through it all the disciples had all-access passes. An insider’s view. He gave them that.
So before we join the din of criticism on Twitter, Reddit or any other social media outlet and say what we think Christianity is, who Jesus is, and how all Christians are hypocrites, why don’t we all try something different in 2020. Why don’t we look at how Jesus lived from the clearest accounts of his life out there. Pick a Gospel: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John and read it. In the Gospel of John, Jesus even invited a few of his first followers to “come and see” what his life is like. Look at Jesus, his life, how he treated people, how he healed, how he showed kindness, how he served, how he gave his life, and how he added value to people. His life is remarkable.
Get an insider’s view of Jesus instead of just hearing others thoughts and opinions. Make an informed insider’s investigation. It means you may have to sit and listen to the whole record, both sides of the album, every trumpet blast and drawn out “Tsssssssssssss” in order to make an informed opinion. Read all of what is presented there in Gospel of John. There is such a beauty about the way Jesus lived. It’s captivating. But you have to sit and listen to it for a while to appreciate the beauty. Kind of like a good Miles Davis album. It may not be your first choice of an album, but it’s really good music.
I like Bono’s challenge to us. Won’t you take that challenge in 2020:
“Jesus isn’t lettin’ you off the hook. The Scriptures don’t let you off the hook so easily…When people say, you know, ‘Good teacher’, ‘Prophet’, ‘Really nice guy’…this is not how Jesus thought of Himself. So you’re left with a challenge in that, which is either Jesus was who he said he was or a complete and utter nut case…You have to make a choice on that. And I believe that Jesus was…the Son of God.”
Wandering the record store aisles on Purpose, Mick