“Years ago, I used to loiter around in a Memphis record store staring at a double LP by the band Big Star that was hanging on the wall. It cost $75. Thanks to my meager summer lifeguard salary, I certainly couldn’t afford it, but I came in to the store so often, pretending to look at the other records while clearly mooning over that Big Star one, that the clerk cut me a deal one day and let me have it for half-price, although it was surely worth more. I took the record home and played it on my dad’s old Bang and Olufsen stereo over and over again.
Months later, that same clerk, in a fit of beneficence so grand it is still unmatched in my life, sent me a copy of the band’s second album, which he’d found at a garage sale in North Carolina. It still ranks as one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
In the intervening years those albums, “#1 Record” (1972) and “Radio City” (1974) served as the food of love: They were the soundtrack to first kisses (I’d put it on deliberately), to road trips, to debilitating post-breakup sadnesses.