MUNNYCAT,
The TVD First Date

“My earliest memories of vinyl are all inextricably linked to my family. Each record is hard-wired to emotions and specific moments that brought us together. As the self-appointed family historian, I still have a lot of those records and they feel as important to me as the dusty photo albums that most people would use to document their family history.”

“I remember from a very early age my mom playing The Beatles, Stones, and Billy Joel as well as classic country and bluegrass records from Johnny Cash, Norman Blake, and Willie Nelson. They were the soundtrack to every moment. We cleaned to them, ate to them, danced to them, and cried to them.

I was so lucky that my parents had such an eclectic vinyl collection when I was growing up. My father, who had moved from Lebanon to go to college in my hometown of Youngstown, OH, always told me that his record collection helped him learn English.

He LOVED old soul records. He was responsible for the Otis Redding, Aretha, and Ray Charles records that were always playing in the background while I played with my Star Wars action figures pretending that the cabinet that housed the vinyl was the interior of the Death Star. He used to explain that he didn’t enjoy rock and roll because the lyrics were too trippy and weird for him to really get anything out of while he was still learning a new language, but the soul records reminded him of the French music he grew up loving.

He explained how the simple, universal themes of soul music like love (and love lost) felt like the poetic language of the French recordings by Édith Piaf and Charles Aznavour that he would also play and sing to as he used his drafting table for his civil engineering projects. The first (and probably only) time I ever saw my dad cry, we were listening to Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” while my mom and him were splitting up.

As I got older, my brother Rached and I found a new appreciation for the vinyl collection. Much to the disappointment of my parents, we were teaching ourselves how to scratch. We would cut James Brown grunts and sample drum breaks from the Commodores. We once made a hip-hop track based on some interlude music from my mom’s Jesus Christ Superstar vinyl that I think really helped my parents appreciate what we were doing. The records were helping us connect to these songs that they had their own history and memories with. We were genuinely excited about the music they thought was the coolest, and I think it brought us all closer together.

When I was old enough to buy my own music it was the era of the CD (the ones in those HUGE cardboard boxes and anti-theft plastic rigs), but we would still always search the record bins at the mall for gems so that we could scratch and sample them. Every now and then we’d get lucky and find a 2 Live Crew, Kool Moe Dee, or Public Enemy vinyl and use our allowance to buy them. I really wish I still had those.

When Kate and I moved across the country from Ohio to Los Angeles a few years ago, we didn’t bring much. We brought our instruments, pets, some clothing, and a big bin of records. Being thousands of miles away from my family during a pandemic, listening to those records was the next best thing to being with them.

When my father died in January of this year from Covid-19, we couldn’t be together or have a funeral, so I mourned the way the members of my family do—I dimmed the lights, put Otis Redding on the turntable, and remembered just how awesome he was. To me, the power and importance of vinyl as a physical token to hold music and memories can not be understated.”
Khaledzou

The MUNNYCAT MixTape is available now.

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PHOTO: ANNA AZAROV

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