Same Old Song

IMG_20161019_110858316When we are younger, we spend a lot of our time thinking about how our lives will turn out when we grow up. We daydream about what kind of job we’ll have, what kind of car we will drive, and where we will live. Now that we are older, and the last ash of all those burned dreams has been carried up into the sky by the dumpster fire of life, we find ourselves trying to re-live our youth. Of course that’s not an option, so we do the next best thing by spending our money on eBay buying things that remind us of those days. Whether it be baseball cards, Star Wars toys, or Barbie dolls, we aren’t just buying the object, we are trying to buy a part of our past. A past that, in retrospect, doesn’t seem as awful now as it did then.

Back in high school, music wasn’t an important part of my life, it was my life. Every new album, or song they played on the college radio station I could barely pick up was like a lifeline to a sad, lonely kid who never fit in anywhere. Bands like REM, X, and, of course, the Replacements somehow or another allowed me to keep my shit somewhat together. None of it would’ve been possible if it wasn’t for a late Christmas gift I got when I was 13.

Back then, I wanted nothing more than a boom box for Christmas. My brother, being a voice of reason, convinced me, and more importantly, my mom, that I didn’t want a boom box, I wanted a stereo. And, under his guidance, we went to the stereo store (they used to have them back then you know) and came home with a real live component system from Sharp, complete with a cassette deck, turntable, and most importantly, a receiver.

While the turntable may have sucked (the platter was warped, and would grind against the base with every turn) and the speakers were blown within two months, I still enjoyed the hell out of that thing, especially the SA-250 receiver. It was through that piece of gear that I discovered college radio, and a world of music I never even knew existed. Do you know how mind blowing something like the Tom Tom Club is to a kid who’s never heard anything more exotic than the local Top 40 station? It was pretty mind blowing to me at least, and that was just the beginning. My friend Mark, the only other person I knew who liked the same bands I did, would bring over albums he’d bought from bands like Guadalcanal Diary and 10,000 Maniacs, which would immediately be taped and added to my growing tape collection.

Later, when I went off to college myself, that receiver came along as well. Paired up with some Infinity RS 1000 speakers, it provided the soundtrack to countless studying sessions, a couple of stereo fights, and a lot of alcohol soaked, late night explorations of the Velvet Underground before finally being retired my senior year in favor of a Pioneer SX-6. the Pioneer had more watts per channel, and a digital readout too! oooh la la! If I remember correctly, I gave the old Sharp to a friend of mine for a wedding present, but I don’t think he kept it very long. Something about it not having a hookup for a TV or something, but who knows? All I know is that I always regretted letting that one go. I may not have needed it anymore, but I sure missed it.

Last week, towards the end of the workday at Job #1 and before the start of Job #2, I found myself looking at old stereo receivers on eBay, and looked up the Sharp SA-250. Sure enough, there were a couple available, and pretty cheap too. A couple of clicks, and several trips to the PayPal website later, I have once again acquired a Sharp SA-250 receiver and a couple of smaller Infinity speakers. No one seemed to have any RS 1000s for sale though, so I upgraded to their big brother, the 2000.

In all honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot from this receiver. My inexperienced, less than critical ears have been replaced by a much wiser, more judgemental pair. These are the same pair that can hear the bright, shrill sound of the Pioneer that replaced it all those years ago, and have developed a somewhat critical sense of what sounds good and what does not. To my surprise, this old dog actually sounds OK. Sure I’ve heard better, but for what it is and what I have wrapped up in it, I can’t complain. My guess is it will sound even better as the new foam surrounds on the RS 2000s.

Of course I didn’t need any of this. Yes, I probably could’ve put this money to better use. Yes, there is a good possibility i am trying to fill some void with material possessions.

No, I don’t care.

At this point, I’ll take my chances with fleeting happiness. I’ve spent too many recent nights watching the glowing embers of my own dumpster fire disappear in the wind. Now I will at least have something to listen to as the last of the coals turn to ash.


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