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Interlude

Funny how the mind works.

I was watching a youtube video from Professor of Rock about how he decided to finally cover

ABBA even though he didn’t like the group.

A group whose music I like very much.

Which got me thinking back to why I like them, my first introduction to their music.

I hadn’t though about this in decades, but it all came flooding back this evening.

I’m not sure exactly how old I was, probably 12, maybe 13. And I was a major, major

bookworm. All during summer break from school, every other Saturday, I’d hop onto my ten

speed, with an old canvas backpack on my back, and take the three mile ride to the nearest

branch library. I’d turn in all the books I’d borrowed the previous visit and pick up the max

amount allowed to get me through the next couple of weeks. I’d long since read every one of the

readers digest condensed books my parents had collected along with a few other old tomes, and

even the entire Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia set we owned, but I couldn’t afford to buy new

books very often.

But one day, while I was there, the cover art on an album caught my eye. It was the cover for

ABBA’s Voulez-Vous. And as to why it caught my eye, look up the cover, make sure it’s a high

resolution picture, and remember I was a 12 or 13 year-old boy.

But I digress. My family listened almost exclusively to country and western music. That was

what I’d grown up on. Chet Atkins, Roy Clark, Statler Brothers, Jim Reeves (my mom’s

favorite) Charlie Pride, that sort of thing. I had an old transistor radio of my own that I’d

somehow managed to fix myself, so I could sometimes pick up local radio stations that played

something other than country, but with the tiny little worn-out speaker, it wasn’t exactly like I

could hear much more than the tune. Nothing to really get me excited about listening to

something new and different.

My parents had a really old cabinet-type high fidelity system. And by old, I mean the type that

looked like a piece, a massive piece, of furniture. It was an old tube type system, which meant it

had to warm up for a couple of minutes before it would play anything. And then it was AM, FM

and phonograph. And most all of the family records were either country or classical. As in

Beethoven classical.

But the cover art of this album fascinated me, and I was very curious to see what was inside that

could inspire such a (to my eyes) work of art on the front.

So, I checked out that album along with my usual load of books, rode home, and at some point

later that afternoon, had a few minutes alone in the house to crank up the old sound system.

I was blown away.

Up to that point, I wasn’t what anyone could call a lover of music. I could sort of sing (and after

my voice changed with puberty I eventually learned I could REALLY sing!), hadn’t started to

learn to play any musical instruments, not counting banging out chopsticks on the piano. That all

changed that evening. Listening to melodies and rhythms and harmonies I’d never heard before,

through those powerful speakers, changed my outlook on music completely. I was hooked on

music, started saving my money so I could buy cassette tapes and a walkman. And soon reading

became mixed with music, listening to new sounds, to what I wanted to hear, helping me further

drown out and escape from the rest of the world for an hour or two before bedtime.

I understand people have different tastes in music, and I’m sure there’s millions out there who

can’t stand Mama Mia or Dancing Queen, or Winner takes it all or the like.

But at the same time, it’s hard for me to internalize this dislike when that one album had such a

profound effect on me, opening my ears and eyes to a new world, a world of complex sound, I’d

never before imagine.

Just as learning to read, my love of reading, profoundly shaped who and what I am, so too did

that one provocative cover change me, teaching me to really and truly appreciate the musical

arts.

So I must say, in complete earnestness, Thank You For The Music.

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