Brenner / Gessner collection
In May 2022, my parents, who are both in their 70s, moved full time to a beach house and sold the house where I grew up in Rockville, Maryland. When clearing out their basement, they gave me their old turntable, a Yamaha “Natural Sound” YP-211, and my father’s New Advent Loudspeakers from 1977. In addition, I got 208 records, almost entirely from the mid 1960s through the mid 1970s.
I have no memory of my parents ever playing any of these records. All of my earliest music memories are of cassette tapes and car radios. Many of them, however, represent the songs that I grew up hearing – at least until I was old enough to make my own musical choices. They’re the soundtrack of my childhood years.
My mother’s preferences were folk, pop and singer-songwriters, while my father was a fan of pop, rock, anything psychedelic, country, jazz and blues, bluegrass, cosmic American music and some classical.
The missing box
My parents’ collection has a ton of great music in it, along with some weird and confusing choices, but it’s also missing a lot of music that I absolutely would expect them to have owned (such as American Beauty by the Grateful Dead, which my father considers a desert island album) – and they agree. Why wasn’t it included in what they passed along to me, and where did it go?
Their belief is that when they last packed up their belongings in boxes and moved from one home to another – in 1982, when the three of us moved from Washington DC to Rockville – the movers must have lost one of their boxes of albums, and that all the music that they should have had, but somehow did not have, must have been in that box.
Is it true? I don’t know, but it sure would explain a lot of gaps.
At the same time that my parents moved in May 2022, their friend and neighbor down the street, whose family I’ve known my entire life and whose sons grew up with my brother and me, offered to send his record collection along as well, and I gladly accepted. 173 records in two large moving boxes soon arrived.
I assumed that his tastes would have been pretty comparable to my parents’, but apparently he used to work at a radio station and, as a result, accumulated a highly eclectic collection that covers everything under the sun. In addition to music like what my parents owned, his includes comedy, soundtracks, compilations, disco, Motown, and much, much more, largely from the 1970s and some from the 1980s.
Many are marked with radio station notations; many state explicitly that they are “promotional and not for sale,” with drilled holes, clipped corners, record company stickers and handwritten taped track lists.
It’s my intention to listen to all the records that I’ve received and to write a review for each one. I hope you’ll enjoy following along!