Last time, I was talking about my love of records and of music, in general. This past week, I was visiting my favorite record store in Eau Claire called Revival Records. The owner is this terrific guy named Billy who started the store about 12 years ago out of an over-abundance of records in his personal collection.
Actually, that’s how so many record labels were started back in the day—guys who owned lots of records and loved music would start their own record labels. People like Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson, who started Atlantic Records in 1947, and Johnny Mercer, who founded Capitol Records in 1942, helped get Jazz and, later, Rock acts on the map. Simply for the love of records.
So, I have gotten to know Billy and he knows the music I like. I have even bought some vintage stereo equipment from him. In fact, I was picking up another turntable last Thursday when he told me about an intriguing promotion from independent records stores like his.
It was called Record Store Day and it happens once a year—this year, twice. It is to celebrate and promote locally-owned independent record stores and has been going on since 2007. I have no idea how I missed out on this.
The idea is that musicians and record companies release limited edition vinyl albums to be sold only in those stores. Not online or at Tower Records or Wal-Mart. I was excited about the prospect and he gave me a website to go and find out what items were going to be available.
Immediately, I saw several items I wanted but he warned me that the store opens at 8 a.m. on that day—Saturday—and a lot of stuff goes right away. No way was I going to get up at 7 a.m. to get there at 8. I would take my chances.
I got there at just after 9 a.m. and I asked him about several records.
“Jon Anderson’s 45 Anniversary Edition of Olias of Sunhillow?” Nope, sold out.
My heart began to sink.
“Umm, Miles Davis Outtakes from the Jack Johnson Sessions?” Sorry, no.
Then I hit my stride, a 3-record album of Dr. John’s 50th Anniversary of Night Tripper which included two records of previously unreleased material. And Billy had one left. Then an album of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Déjà vu Alternatives which included original mixes and alternate versions of that great album.
It's on my turntable playing right now.
And I got Keith Jarrett’s final album called Budapest. Amazing.
Now allow me to jump back to Thursday, when I was picking up my turntable.
After I took the turntable out to the car, I returned to do a little more shopping. When I got in the door, I heard a familiar voice say, “I knew that, if I came in here often enough, I would eventually find you.”
I turned to find an old, old friend named Gary Meier smiling that Meier smile and I think I ever yelped. I grabbed him and hugged him and the folks in the record store all smiled broadly. Clearly, long-lost pals were reunited.
They say that real friends might not see each other for many years but, when they are reunited, they pick up where they left off. It was just so.
Gary and I used to teach at a seminary together in Georgia. That was where we met. We worked for a dictatorial president of the college who made our lives miserable. Or, at least, tried to. But Gary and I found each other and were able to be each other’s refuge from the tyrannical storm.
We had discovered similar interests in music and theology and Biblical history. Gary was the best teacher of Hermeneutics—the branch of study dealing with interpretation of Biblical texts—that I ever saw. We even taught together at another school of theology that has since gone by the wayside. Eventually, he began teaching at a Christian high school in Minneapolis and I moved to Portland where things fell apart.
It was never that we had a falling out, just a falling away. Life pulled us in different directions.
As we talked, I told him that I had been writing Jazz reviews for the last decade and he said, “Oh, I know. I’ve been reading them. You have gotten me interested in a lot of musicians I never would have discovered on my own.”
We didn’t see or hear from each other but he was reading my Jazz reviews and articles. I’m not sure anything could have made me happier.
When I moved to Owen-Withee, back in 2012, he was still living in Chippewa Falls. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I should contact him. At that time, I was being pulled away from my family and old friends and I didn’t want to put Gary on that sacrificial altar.
Then came Nicole. And everything I loved—family, friends, records—was restored to me.
Gary and I stood there talking for more than an hour and I didn’t want to say goodbye. Then we decided to meet for lunch next Friday. And he informally invited us to a place on the lake when we can set a time.
Something good always happens in a record store.
The Sentinel & Rural News covers the news and events of Clark County and southern Taylor County, as well as regional news that affects those areas.