The Men Who Made Me

The man singing the song is dead. The needle brings his voice back to life and animates his fingers, but his body is embalmed and buried. The record plays all day and night because we’re in denial. The voice is Heaven. The needle is God. His fingers are the Holy Spirit. We recite the lyrics as if they were the absolute truth of everything.
​“We’ll have to flip the record over again soon,” I tell my dad. He nods, agreeing with me and loving the beat.
​He tells me, “If it wasn’t for this album, you wouldn’t be born, boy.”
We flip the record to Side-B. I’m eternally grateful for the dead man’s voice and his influential fingers. As soon as the needle hits the crevice, the magic burns bright. The sound is born in the silence and we sing along, dance, and love life. But before we laugh too loud, we remember why we are playing this record over and over. We stop dancing, but tap our feet under the table. The joy is inescapable.
“Rock ‘n Roll, Bobby. Rock ‘n Roll,” my dad coos.
“We need more of it, Dad.”
He cries. He pulls me close. The voice soothes. The guitar wails. In our embrace, we feel the soul of another climb its way into our bodies. We become possessed with the love and life of another man we’ve never even met.
When the record ends, the clock strikes midnight. We carry the vinyl disk carefully to its paper cave. The man’s sweating head and oiled hair is displayed on the front. His teeth are showing in his wide open mouth full of silent song. The back of the cover is full of others whose loved the man as much as us. The band must be weeping too.

– Philip James Sterwerf

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