The console and stereo was positioned along the rear wall of the cork wallpapered family room. It faced the back of the endless brown davenport, leaving just enough room for single-file passage between them. My father had deposited the records along the back side of the davenport. As he eased himself onto the ground with a large crate between his legs, I dropped what I was doing and sat next to him.

He flipped past dozens of record jackets and stopped at one with a man sticking his thumb up. The man’s thumb was painted like an American flag. I recall being struck by this now-indelible image. My father uttered some profane exclamation of glee and quickly unsleeved the record to examine it. After a minute of holding it at various angles and blowing on it a few times, he lifted the Plexiglass cover of his turntable and put the record on post in the center. As he flipped a number of switches on the various brushed aluminum components, a calm voice pierced the silence…”A long, long time ago…”. As my dad leaned against the back of the davenport, he closed his eyes and began to sing along. I quickly moved closer and gazed at him as he sang. This moment seemed to last forever. As an eight-year-old, nine minutes and twenty-four seconds was an eternity.

That song that ended my innocent enthusiasm for nursery rhymes, Sesame Street anthems, and the seminal children’s feel-good record: Free to Be You and Me, the song that ushered me into the great wide world of adult music, the song that popped my aural cherry was Don McLean’s magnum opus: “American Pie”.  I would be the song that altered the course of my life.

But for me, sitting next to my father hearing it for the first time, this would not be the day the music died. Paradoxically, it would be the day my melodic odyssey was born. From this day forward, songs would become an acoustic chronicle of my earthly adventure.  A deeper appreciation of music would be the impetus for a pursuit that would nearly bankrupt me, a pastime that would often allay the disquiet of my journey, and a passion that would truly save my mortal soul. Throughout the remainder of my days, music would be that one true friend—proving its fidelity time after time.

Excerpt from Finding Fidelity, the forthcoming novel from Blake Charles Donley

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