In the space between finals and the start of second semester when it seems like everyone’s classes are done ganging up on them – in that cool lull in the spring where it’s too cool to keep the windows open – my good buddy Nate and I sat chatting about music. It was Sunday evening and he was still nursing a hangover layered with a cold, face-down in his pillow with an open and empty pizza box at arms reach he mumbled something about The Who.
At the time I was revving up my music obsession and had picked up Live at Leeds and played it through my grounds-crew-at-the-airport style headphones in a way that told everyone in earshot that I was going to have hearing loss before my forties. But that wasn’t the point, I liked The Who – hell I loved them. But it was in this moment with my friend stretched out with an inch of his round belly poking out underneath his dark-colored shirt, awkwardly seated forward in a butterfly chair, the dorm room door open and the crackling record player that I found out that music changes you.
The LP chased the sun set. Roaring into our ears and fluttering out of the room. Short breaks between of me flipping or changing to the second record. It was loud. Not in the way parties or “rocking out” is loud – it was a thunderous. The waves crashed around us, we were there – in studio, we inhaled Townshed’s riffs and exhaled our misconceptions of rock and roll. It was an overture for us all. No one walked in or said a word, neither of us spoke. I was warm with sound, the emotional work poured into the artist on the other end.
All I could do was huff and laugh a little at the end of “Love, Reign o’er Me.” I was sad it was over. I had to go back to living my life. I was on pause, as if Captain N mashed his belt and the Who and I were the only ones there to witness these moments. There was no coming back.
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