Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
I tend to hold on to a lot more than I probably should. This isn’t just stuff we’re talking about – though my pack rat status is confirmed. This inability to let things go includes obsessing on something I said at a party in 2003, or that time I laughed at a mean joke in fifth grade.
Let’s start with the stuff, though. I’m not quite a hoarder, but I like to hold onto things. I have all of my original Masters of the Universe figures, most still with their original gear and comics. I’ve been dragging those around for more than 35 years now, and have no intention of getting rid of them. There’s just too much nostalgia associated with them.
What prompted these current thoughts about letting things go, though, was a record. I have a respectable collection of vinyl – 33s, 45s, even some old 78s – I’ve picked up over the years. Most are from artists that have made some sort of musical impact on me. At least one, though, is from a band I’ve never even listened to, even though it has been in my collection for more than a decade.
There’s a story here, of course. I won the record – from a regional 1980s hip-hop group called “the U-Krew” – at a poetry slam in San Antonio sometime before 2005 (the exact date escapes me). San Antonio gives out novelty records for placing in the final round of their slam, and this was one of several I won.
The U-Krew album is kitschy on a whole different level though. The five guys on the cover look like they could range in age from 15 to 50. All are dressed in identically patterned pants, jackets (no shirts), and hats. The costumes look like they were put together from a bolt of zebra striped cloth bought at the corner Jo-Ann Fabrics by the mother of one of the boys (or the wife of the 50-year-old).
Then you flip the album, “Let Me Be Your Lover,” over and you realize… it’s six versions of the same song. There’s the fresh mix, the alternate single edit, the instrumental, the dub version, percus-a-pella, and perc-a-bass-ella remixes.
But, like I said, I’ve never listened to any of them. When I came across it in my collection the other night I almost put it into a cull pile, then I smiled at the memory of placing in that slam – I think I took second place – and put it back on the shelf.
I can imagine my grandchildren someday, going through all the clutter of a lifetime, putting stuff into similar trash/keep piles, and coming across this album. They aren’t going to know the story of the slam. They aren’t going to know the album wasn’t ever played.
They’re going to see this gem of an album cover in amongst albums from Benny Goodman, John Coltrane, the Grateful Dead, Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce, Paul Simon, Flatts & Scruggs, Bruce Springsteen, Glenn Campbell, and other great songwriters and expectations are going to be set. They’re going to expect it to be wonderful. Some as yet unknown diamond in the rough that deserves it’s place amongst all these other legendary artists. They’re going to take it out of the sleeve, look over the pristine, unscratched surface. They’re going to put it on the turntable. And they’re going to be the first people in a century to hear “Let Me Be Your Lover.” All six versions. And I hope it’s absolutely terrible.
This is why I can’t get rid of anything.
Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org