I’ve Consigned My Soul to Virgin Records

I walked into the store at Union Square today and I had what I wanted in mind and I wasn’t going to wander and be impulsive, but I couldn’t control myself. Walking into that store was maybe a bad idea.

I picked up Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago. This has got to be one of the  most absolutely heartbreaking records I’ve ever listened to. Justin Vernon’s previous band split up, he and his girlfriend broke up, and he locked himself in his father’s hunting cabin in northern Wisconsin and came out a couple months later with this album. It’s brilliant.

I picked up Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes. They remind me a little bit of the Avett Brothers. I love their inviting voices and folky feel.  The instrumentation is fun and solid and rich, but relatively simple. Not a song I don’t like on this one.

I picked up the Schoenberg and Sibelious violin concertos performed by Hilary Hahn. This album is a double-Grammy nominee, for best solo performance and best classical album. I’ve been a Hilary fan forever, and I’m very excited to listen to this one at full blast.

Then I went downstairs to tempt myself with DVDs. I shouldn’t have gone downstairs. Of course. I picked up The Visitor. I saw this movie in the theater, and I really liked it. Richard Jenkins does a fabulous job. The movie is wonderfully cast and acted superbly.

Actually, I didn’t pick up anything I wasn’t planning on getting. Still, I don’t really need those things. The music is incredible and the movie is fantastic. Dangit.

Now, I am watching the 2006 Academy Award short film nominees. This was from Netflix, so as long as I don’t step into another Virgin Records store anytime soon, there’s still a chance for me.

***

I took the elevator back up to the top floor, and a song I immediately recognized floated into my ears, “Stop Whispering,” by Radiohead, from Pablo Honey. I wanted to cry. I wanted to sing at the top of my lungs, “Stop whispering, start shouting!” The song became one of my first mantras when I moved to New York City. The song reminds me of my good friend, Janine, my first real friend here. I knew about Radiohead before I met her, but she got me to really listen to them. Janine is 5’8″ with a skinny body type and beautiful, short curly red hair. She has a quick sense of humor. She’s highly principled and has a very strong moral compass. We hit it off right away. She received me and my personality and sense of humor with very open arms. We used to stay up late, sometimes even into the early morning, watching movies or listening to music or even just talking. We’d sometimes burst into song in building lobbies just so we’d hear our echoes. Once we met in a Starbucks and we came up with a subject and wrote about it for 10 minutes and shared what we wrote with each other. The subject was “victim.” We went to quite a few gigs together. She encouraged my writing, and I got her a book about songwriting, because she used to be in a band. She loaned me books about depression. I went to church with her a few times. I got to meet her friends, and once I started making more friends, she met mine. She left the city to study at a theological seminary just outside of Philadelphia. I’ve not had another friend quite like her. So when I heard Radiohead today in Virgin Records, it was as if I could hear Janine singing it herself. “Stop Whispering,” in the elevator bank on the floor of my office at work, while we’re waiting for the elevator so we could take the train home. “High and Dry” in the foyer of her apartment building, almost sounding like a hymn.

I miss Janine.