(This is the second post-Record Store Day open letter. To read the first, An Open Letter To The People Who Lined Up Outside BK Music On Record Store Day, click here.)
An Open Letter To The Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr Album That Made Me Bleed On Record Store Day
Edgar Allen Poe once said that “There is an eloquence in true enthusiasm.” I really like that, don’t you?
It reminds me — ironically, I suppose — of the breathlessness with which children tell stories they’re particularly excited about. Respiration and recitation crash into one another like waves headed in different directions, making for a bumpy, sometimes incoherent narrative — certainly not eloquence in the traditional sense. But within that crazy cadence, natural rhythms are hiding. Lungs working at full capacity. Synapses firing as fast as possible. Pitch rising at the end of each phrase. When you look closer, you find the body and spirit in perfect harmony, flowing as smoothly as ballroom dancers who have rehearsed every move they intend to make.
It’s just that type of enthusiasm I blame for our… incident.
Before going any further, I have to make one thing perfectly clear: it’s not your fault. You’re perfect. You’re just what I was hoping to find when I strolled into Plan 9 at around 10:30 on Saturday, when Record Store Day was in full swing. You also happened to be the very last copy of Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr’s Patterns EP Plan 9 had to offer. I didn’t end up seeing another all day long. Clearly, it was meant to be. We were meant to be.
So please, don’t feel guilty about the epic paper cut you gave me.
Honestly, who would have thought that a record jacket, a piece of cardboard as thick as several sheets of paper, could slice into human skin? I certainly wouldn’t have. Of course I was being naive. My years collecting vinyl have largely been spent with more elderly branches of your family tree — used records with jacket edges frayed by time and rough treatment. Shrink wrap is seldom involved. So when I got home on Saturday afternoon, beyond excited, visions of new Jr Jr tunes dancing in my head, I skipped the scissors and ran my index fingernail along your jacket’s eastern edge, opening up a sizable and surprisingly bloody cut at the base of that tiny divide between nail and finger.
Did it hurt like hell? Yes. Was I upset? Yes. I may have even yelled the last word of Bruce Willis’ catchphrase from the Die Hard franchise. I can’t remember for sure. (I was in pain!) But please understand, I wasn’t yelling at you. OK, so I was yelling while looking in your direction, but that’s all water under the bridge now — shrink wrap in the trash can — because you’ve been on the turntable almost every day since, accelerating the healing process by bringing four dynamite new songs into my living room. In fact, I’m beginning to think you’re Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr’s best release to date! For real! The Detroit duo who gave you life seem to be getting better and better, applying their gifts with ever-increasing complexity and depth while maintaining the sense of fun that drew me to them in the first place. The relative weightiness of “Dark Water” complements the exuberance of “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On The Dancefloor)” wonderfully, and “Hiding” may turn out to be my favorite Jr Jr song of all.
I know you’ve been harboring feelings of shame and remorse, but it was my own eagerness that got us into this mess, and as you can see, our run-in hasn’t soured me on the songs etched into your grooves. Not in the least. In fact, I’m going to post two of your songs below, so everyone can hear how great you are.
What d’ya say? We good? Good. See you on the turntable, buddy.
[Update: Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr’s response via Facebook: “We are sorry and we are honored all at once. In a way we are now blood brothers, as ours went into making the record and yours is now on it.” Love it.]
Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr — “If You Didn’t See Me (You Weren’t On The Dancefloor)” [Spotify/iTunes]