My little brother goes to school for music, just like I did. My mother plays guitar, piano, and sings with a hodgepodge 5-person church choir. My dad, despite having a completely foreign relationship with pitch, has always approached music as something to pursue and learn from. We’re no Partridge Family but Christmas isn’t Christmas without someone getting new music. This year my brother gave me The Arcade Fire’s Funeral on vinyl.
He had been away for some 3 months since he’d left for school. With him at home we made a few nights together, usually sometime between Midnight and 3AM. This night was dedicated to the listening of Funeral. I carefully slit a seam down the plastic wrap, placed the record on my turntable, and gently set the needle. Music slowly filled our space. My mind, lit with a fuzz and a flickering of bells, left the room.
Funeral was my first semester of college. I lived in Beck Hall, #240. A double. My roommate was among the percentage of students who don’t make it past the first year. Our room was cold, dark, and had next to nothing on the cinderblock walls. I had a grey comforter. His was a blue almost black. Cait and Lauren lived above us and they were high school friends. For me, Kutztown was far enough away that nobody from my high school knew what it was. I’d met Cait through the marching band. I played one of the 5 bass drums in the drumline and she was in the colorguard. Their room was much different than my own. It was warm, in the kind of way that home feels warm. They had lamps and colorful blankets. The scents were always on the pleasant side of the scale. Cait had had a high school friend named Toad, her senior prom date. He didn’t go to Kutztown and they weren’t dating, but she entrusted him for musical wisdom and advising, as if he was some kind of niche soothsayer. When we gathered to listen to music it felt sacred, and secret. What did we know? And when would everyone else find out? Like Watergate before boiling point, this is what people said college was all about. Funeral was Toad’s pearl. Cait played it over and over again in that room upstairs. It all could’ve been over after “Tunnels” for me.