At long last, a FedEx box containing nine pounds of audiotapes and CDs hit my doorstep today. The tapes are irreplaceable recordings I've gathered over more than 35 years and the CDs, some 20 of them, are copies which will allow me, in turn, to burn copies for a few friends who are into this stuff.
I've been skipping around the pile, just to see that everything got copied, and am now psyching myself up for the job of taking out noise, rebalancing where necessary, and making them listenable for others who aren't so used to picking out good sounds from tape and needle hiss, pops, scratches and poor equalization.
In the five months they've been away -- and, since my tape recorder and record turntable have both been in need of servicing, even longer for most of them -- I've somehow managed to forget what a bittersweet impact these recordings have on me.
It's not just that they contain beautiful music, though they certainly do. It's the absolute knowledge that I will never hear anything like these performances "live" again in this life. In every case, the musicians are gone, as are the instruments they played. Or, at the very least, said instruments have been altered beyond recognition in recent years.
I regarded it all so casually back then. I did my little technical things, and my now-departed friends played. Or, in some cases, copies of performances I hadn't been around to hear were made for me by the musicians themselves. None of us could see ahead to a time when we wouldn't be hanging around together. We never saw that the music would one day end, with only these recordings left as a reminder.
So now, I have them, and it's my wish to be certain they will not vanish with me.
Of course I also remember the sheer joy of those days as well. To have had them, to have been in some sense a participant, means a great deal to me.
Some philosopher once said something to this effect: Art endures, but life is fleeting.
I know exactly what he meant today.
There will always be music.
For now, I listen to what was, and marvel as if I'd never heard it before. To mingle with a few giants in the world of music has been a magnificent experience, and I will not mourn the loss of those wonderful times as much as I will cherish the memory of having been around when these giants were working their magic.
8 hours ago