According to dictionaries, Wikipedia, other tionaries and alternate pedias, a repressed memory is, “… a condition where a memory has been unconsciously blocked by an individual due to the high level of stress or trauma contained in that memory. Even though the individual cannot recall the memory, it may still be affecting them consciously.”
If that’s the case, that’s not what I have because the memory I’m about to share is one I do remember, but wish I could repress.
You see, the first album I ever purchased with my own money was “Close To You” by the Carpenters.
Five decades later, I still have no clue why on earth I would lose my LP virginity to Karen and Richard Carpenter and an album named after a song that – when I hear it – makes me want to take hostages and then barf on those hostages.
The album was released in August, 1970, so assuming I bought it when it first came out, I was 9 years old. And, we can also assume that since I bought it, I must’ve also listened to it.
I distinctly remember walking into the W.T. Grant store at Roebuck Shopping City in Birmingham, Alabama, selecting the album, paying for the album, and exiting the premises with the album.
Things get a little fuzzy from there.
Now, the age factor can be a legitimate excuse for my actions given that 9-year-olds aren’t necessarily known for their decision-making skills. It’s why you don’t see kids that young operating heavy machinery or removing gallbladders.
But, I was already into music by then, and none of that music was anything like what the Carpenters put out.
When my brother went off to college he left behind albums by the likes of Jim Hendrix (I absolutely wore out “Are You Experienced”), the Animals (I used to sing “House of the Rising Sun” to my dog, Ringo), and the Monks (kind of a 1960s version of punk).
I was rock and roll through and through at a very young age.
That being the case, it would stand to reason that in 1970 I would spend my hard-earned allowance on something cool like, say, “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” by Derek and the Dominos or “Led Zeppelin III.”
It was “Close to You” – an album so syrupy you couldn’t listen to it without a short stack and pat of butter.
I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out what possessed me to buy it.
I guess it could’ve been to impress a girl, but the only girl I wanted to impress at the time was Yvonne Craig, who played Batgirl on TV. Ours was a May-December romance that I still don’t like to talk about because it was unrequited.
I will, however, talk about it long enough to say she could buy her own albums due to the sweet “Batman” residuals she raked in.
Could it be that maybe there was a song on the album that, for whatever reason, I liked?
No … it could not be that.
Karen Carpenter had a wonderful voice, Richard Carpenter was a great composer, and they were brilliant at their craft. But their kind of music was not “my” kind of music.
No, this will likely remain a mystery for the rest of my days – one that can’t be solved or resolved.
Over the years I’ve spent a lot of money on music yet – except for that one time – I stayed true to my roots.
I bought all the early KISS stuff and was even a member of the KISS Army (I never saw any action, though, because I was stationed stateside).
As time went on I stocked up on albums and 45s by the Ramones, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, the Clash and the New York Dolls – just about every band you can think of that didn’t sound anything remotely like the Carpenters.
But I’ll have to live with the fact that – as I lay on my death-bed, surrounded by morbid people who want to see me die – one of my last thoughts as I take the Big Sleep will be that my first music money was spent on “Close To You.”
I’ll probably be given a posthumous dishonorable discharge from the KISS Army.
And I’ll deserve it.