Song Lyrics Poetry posted October 8, 2017

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The record of life spins. Who loses or wins?

Record of Life

by Sis Cat

The record of life spins.
Who loses or wins?
What’s comin’ ‘round the bend?
How will this journey end?                                      

I’m a boy of sixteen,
black and lean, resplendent
in sneakers, tees, and jeans.
Carter is President.                                                                                                     

After school in L.A.,
every day I cruise
the shops along the way
for records new or used.                                                                 

I get high on vinyl
when I open the sleeves.
I get high on Spiral
Staircase and Martha Reeves.                                                                   

Candy-colored labels,
from blues to rock ‘n’ roll,
I buy what I’m able.
Records excite my soul.                                                          

The record of life spins.
Who loses or wins?
What’s comin’ ‘round the bend?
How will this journey end?                                                                                              

On Foothill Boulevard
sits a secondhand shop.
It has a concrete yard.
I slow to make a stop.                       

I say, “You sell singles?”
The man says, “Over there.”
My whole body tingles.
Forty-fives ev’rywhere!

From the counter I hear,
“You steal and I’ll shoot you!”
I can’t believe my ears
and don't know what to do.

Blue eyes and a barrel
target my sweating head.
I stare at the muzzle
and fear I’ll soon be dead.

My heart beats as my hands leaf through the singles rack.
Sneakers freeze to the floor. I’m unable to run.
I buy two records, turn, and fear shots in the back.
I retreat from the shop, look up, and thank the sun.                                                  

The record of life spins.
Who loses or wins?
What’s comin’ ‘round the bend?
How will this journey end?                                                                                              

I grew into a man.
Now, tunes zip through downloads.
My thoughts reminisce and
miss the days when discs sold.

I drive four-hundred miles
to see the antique shop’s
locked doors and empty aisles.
In an instance, time stops,                               

winds backwards, and lingers
on how the forty-fives
trembled in my fingers.
A gun aimed at my eyes.

Part of me imagines
my body’s chalked outline.
Prejudice and passions
strangle and intertwine.

The record of life spins.
Who loses or wins?
What’s comin’ ‘round the bend?
How will this journey end?

The record of life spins.
Who loses or wins?                                                                                                                    


Lyrics Make The Song Contest contest entry


Carter: Jimmy Carter, President of the United States, 1977-1981.

Spiral Staircase: American band that had one hit in 1969, "More Today Than Yesterday."

Martha Reeves: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, a 1960s soul trio of such hits as "Dancing in the Street" and "Heat Wave."

singles/forty-fives: a seven-inch phonographic record made of vinyl. Containing a song on each side, the disc is played at forty-five revolutions per minute.

In 2012, after the Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed the unarmed, black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, I began to have flashbacks to my own incident when I was sixteen and a white thrift shop keeper almost shot me because he feared I was going to steal his records. I located my account of the incident in a 1980 diary, but even then, the incident so disturbed me that I blotted out the gun and wrote cryptically, "I was scared of him." Thirty-three years later, after much psychic excavation, I drove four-hundred miles to visit the now shuttered shop where I could have died.

I am now taking a songwriting workshop. I combined two assignments that my teacher gave me--to write a social commentary song without being preachy and to write a song that emulates my musical hero. I chose to write about being held at gunpoint by a secondhand shop owner, and to emulate my musical hero at the time, the late Tom Petty.

Picture Google.

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