You ever feel like a thrift store record player? Once loved, many times discarded. How often you have moved hands. Who loved you the most, you wonder. They must have, at some point thought of you as valuable. They could not just have bought you were there nothing to admire. How many again? Do you even know? You lost count a while ago, convincing yourself that experience mattered more. What about value though? Is this why the shop keeper kept reducing the price with each new owner? Are you not worth the dimes once paid for your freshly painted façade? How long ago was that? Top of the range, high voltage… brand new model record player.
Your sound was as clear as day. No one could ignore the protests of TLC against scrubs, their melodic voices could be heard three houses away from your speakers. What about Joe Thomas, or Tamia, when they sang of heartbreak and true love. Did you even know what all that meant? You think you were sold too early? Who sold you though? Was it not you who did not want to feel left out, did you not just follow what was it at the time? Sit there on the shop window and look good till someone who could afford you walked in. Then you smile… You let them tough you, let them feel you; you let them play you till they thought you would do.
Of course there were others. There have always been others. But even on the shop window, in your gleaming grey exterior and black fishnet speakers, you knew that there had to be more. You knew, deep down, that you were not like the rest. What do you think happened though? Where did you lose yourself? Was it when they abandoned you with a record stuck in your player? All tangled and fragile the tape was, you knew that you would have to be careful from then on. You knew a lot would be different. None of the other players managed to get a tape stuck in them, not then.
Maybe it was when he bought a new house and forgot you in the old one. You were still grey then. You sang beautifully and had a really bright future ahead. But then you woke up one day and realised he was gone. He never even said goodbye. It still hurts when you think about it. It still stings when you remember him. He was your world. Who would take care of you now? Who would fight your battles? You wanted to be the first to play him Ellie Golding and Avicii. You wanted him to see you grow to enjoy listening to John Robbie. He took your batteries with him. He left you entirely dependent on the grid, your alternative source of power, gone.
It could have been when they did away with that grey you loved so much to make you pink. Pink was in, pink was it. It is often difficult to sell off what someone else has owned, so the best thing to do is reinvent it. Give it a new look, make sure no one misses it in the window. Was it perhaps when threatened to bang you against the wall? You know, that one time you struggled to sing to them. You swore you would never be one of those players. The ones who stayed even when they were being pulled at and bruised each time they chocked. So when you saw it coming to you, you ran.
You’ve always been good at running, haven’t you? But I’ve always thought it was the good that kept running from… the ones that always took care of you, the ones who looked at you with adoring eyes. Remember that one, the one you struggled hear speak? Remember how he would make sure you sat in the best spot in the house, how everyone would see and approve of you, how he always told them of his love for you, how he reassured you? You ran from him too… right back to the shopkeeper, right back to that dreaded window where everyone would stare and point. It is a life, you wonder? Why have you never succeeded in running elsewhere, why has it always been that shop?
Do you till sing, Grey? Is that still what they call you; you know, with the colour changes and speakers instead of a horn? Is that still who you are? Can you still find yourself behind all that makeup? Are you sure? So much seems to have happened since you were made; so many people look up to you. You seem to be the only one who feels trapped by that shop window; everyone else sees more of you than that. Do you have to wait on them? Do you always have to let them define you? How much more are you going to let them change you into what they want, make you play music they like? Don’t you think you can do it on your own? Don’t you think you can fix yourself? Aren’t there better things to look forward to than being owned?
Come one, Grey. Come on already. You’ve been here before; you’ve played this record many a times. Just because you’re older and rusty, doesn’t mean you not worth it. You sing beautifully, Grey. Everyone listens when you get in tune. You are the only one who isn’t paying attention. I know how they talk about you; how they say you aren’t progressive because you still love Bruce Hornsby more than Drake. But that’s who you are. Don’t you think we all feel broken, Grey? Come on now.
Every one of us has been bought before. Every one of us has had an abusive owner, a loving owner, a caring mate. We’ve all lost, we’ve also gained. None of us look as we did when we were made. That can also be good you know. Some of us will find them who want to fix us up and love us forever. Others will run into antique collectors who will value us till the end. Some of us will not be so lucky. There are those who are just meant to play happy songs for the others, to keep them going. But you want more, don’t you? You want the extraordinary.
What if you aren’t a thrift store record player? What if you’ve been put here by mistake? What if you were actually meant for the extraordinary? How would you feel then? What would do differently then? I think who you are is really who you think, Grey. I think you should play your tune louder.