May 2020 25

Mercifully, we reach the final post about the 10 albums that have affected me. Rather than just a cover without explanation, I decided to write something about each one. An edited version of this appeared on Facebook. 



It arrived three weeks before Christmas.

Canada Posted from exotic Regina, Saskatchewan. I was 11 years old.

Inside a larger parcel that contained various gifts for the entire family, there it was. Square. Flat. Festively wrapped, ribbonned, and tagged ‘For Brenda and Andrew. With much love, Uncle Bruce and Auntie Fran.’

My mom placed it under the Christmas Tree.

Where it would sit, I remind you, for three whole entire agonizing weeks.

“Stay away from the presents,” Yuki, my mom, warned. “Do not peek at them this year.” My reputation was notorious. Peeker.

This year, I would resist, I told myself. I’m 11 now. I could do this.

However, every morning I would get up and descend downstairs for breakfast and have to pass it, sitting there under the branches dripping with ornaments. Beckoning me.

My obsession started innocently. ‘Hmmmm, is it actually a record though? Maybe I should at least find out. That’s not peeking’, I told myself. The rationalizing of an addict so close to their score and not allowed to have it.

Confident of a few minutes of secrecy one morning, I got closer, picked it up (ahhh, my precious), and ran my fingers all over it. Smooth. Sleek. I grabbed a record from the family collection, and married it up for size. A match. Yes. Record. I replaced it carefully.

My sister had lost interest. Four years older and in high school and popular and shit, she had obviously put it out of her mind. But I was an eleven year-old with time on my hands – it was the 1980s, we had time on our hands –  and I had sampled the drug. I now went to bed wondering, “Okay, a record. But WHAT record? Something grownup? Something cool?”

Over the next few weeks, I would go on various missions of curiosity without really peeking and risking Yuki’s wrath. I did the standard shaking. No clue there, but definitely not a double record. I held the wrapped slab up to a bright lamp to try to see through the wrapping paper. Nope. I looked for seams in the wrapping and scotch tape to try to get a look inside. Uh uh.

One night, really close to Christmas Day now, I doubled-down. The Family was downstairs in the wood-pannelled basement watching TV. And I passed through the living room, alone. The Christmas Tree lights were on, illuminating the square like a jewel. I had no chance, really. I got down on all fours and tore a little corner of the wrapping, on the backside so it wouldn’t be evident.

And there I saw it … the edge of a dark photograph. But no evident names of bands like ‘AC/DC’ or ‘Ozzy Osborne’ or ‘Van Halen’, like I hoped. But darkness equalled grown-up and cool for sure, right?  So, satisfied, I smoothed over the violation and slept a bit more contently that night, knowing I had reclaimed my title of Peeker.

Christmas Morning.

I awakened. As if I’d slept, right? And I went on a direct collision course with the mysterious square package that had occupied my thoughts for weeks to fulfil visions of tearing it open like a hungry audio-seeking animal.

Clearly, I still think about that record.

So, what was it, you ask? What was the fuckin record, Andrew?

Does it really matter?

Doesn’t every record you get, you hope, have the potential to change your life? That’s what this challenge is all about, isn’t it? It’s less about music, and more about the person.

Who are we? Each of us.

Some bands you hear for the first time and you just think, “Yes I get this. And this gets me. This is how I’m feeling. I feel so understood.”

We’re all just looking for the next one in life, aren’t we?

We’re all just hoping for that next elusive connection, delivered via needle drop or hitting of ‘play’, to something new inside of us that we didn’t know was there.

The most exciting record. It’s always the next one.