A New Hope

We were just a little over two weeks from moving back into our house. The river had flooded us out back in March, and after a battle with MSD that we didn’t exactly win, but took the consolation prize, we were finally on our way to getting back in. For the past four months, my wife, son and I had been staying in several different friends’ and family’s houses, bringing what we had saved from the water along with us. Along with furniture, clothes, kitchenware, toys and some odds and ends, I had also lugged most of my music with us. A couple thousand CDs, vinyl, box sets were all stuffed into a couple different basements for safe keeping.  

It made for an unexpected scenario of not having my collection at my fingertips. I had everything digitized and a subscription to Spotify, but it turned out to be harder for my obsessive nature than I realized. Even in this digital world, I’ve hung tightly to my collection and on a regular basis will still look through the book of whatever album I’m listening to and read the liners or lyrics, or just to get that extra connection with the music. And while everything is available at anytime on your phone, it’s sometimes much easier to decided what to listen to by having it in front of you. With the option of anything ever recorded in the history of time, I’ll come up with a blank plenty of the time. Stand me in front of a wall of music and the right one will show itself, drawing me to it like magnetic tape used to record it (old school!).  

Fast forward to last week when the flash floods hit. With our house near completion, we had decided it was a good time to slowly start gathering our housed inventory and get it back to its proper space in the world. Since our floors weren’t finished, we put it in the garage. It’s July after all and the neighborhood has no history of flooding around this time. As it turns out, that’s not the case when a pumping station fails, sending the massive amounts of water back up through the storm drain and back into our house, effectively washing through all of our belongings.  

To say we were devastated is an understatement. Yes, it’s just stuff, and it can all be replaced. Well, almost all of it.  Some of the albums are promo copies, out of print or special editions. Some were autographed, and some had some special scratches that told their own stories. A collection, whatever the genre, is special. It’s a part of us, and a part of our own story. It is its own version of a photo album, whether it be memorabilia, Furbies, or as in my case, music.  

Through all of this, knowing that my family was safe, healthy, housed and taken care of (and make no mistake, that’s always the top priority), I had the luxury of being able to hold on to and worry about my own collection. When it finally was lost in the water, a friend asked if maybe there was a lesson of letting go to be had. And I suppose that, yes, there is. Eventually anyway. Right now it still hurts a bit. I had to throw away a lot of old friends that day, many who had been with me for much of my life.  

I will say that in the debate over streaming music, Spotify and the new Apple Music have been a lifesaver. Like Qui-Gon Jinn finding a way to communicate after death with The Force, I can pull up almost any of my old friends on a whim and get back to that place. There is absolutely something missing from the cosmic dance, but the payoff still arrives. Though don’t get me wrong, there still needs to be a better pay grade for the artists, contracts still need to be rectified, audio quality still needs to be upgraded, but without them, I would be at a complete loss, and completely lost.  

We’ll get back on our feet soon enough. We’re optimistic people. We know that things will change. How? Because we have an amazing community of friends who are helping, and a soundtrack by John Williams blasting behind us. From everything I’ve ever learned, sometimes that — and a little luck — is all you need. •

Kyle Meredith is the music director of WFPK and host of the nationally syndicated “The Weekly Feed.” Hunting bears was never his strong point.