Let There Be Life

Tuesday, September 21, 2004
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I resurrected her from a 1.5-year death.

Her heart had stopped beating. Those little lungs became punctured and stopped pumping. No more juice flowed through her Monster Cable veins.

First the 10-disc CD changer stopped working. Then the subwoofer became a no-woofer. Then the rear fill speakers went belly-up. Then the left front speakers (2 midranges and a tweeter) ceased living a good life. Only the (3) front right speakers breathed. It was akin to playing the pots and pans through an orange juice can when the music did play, which wasn’t often.

Oh the pain.

Then the big hit came. The head unit’s cassette deck (yes, I still played my high-quality, homemade cassettes) took a dive. Then the radio receiver decided that it would prefer to jump stations all by its lonesome, every ten seconds or so, like a couch potato surfing through college football games on a Saturday afternoon. Therefore, my only listening pleasure in my vehicle was none other then an unforgivable, continuous-scan head unit that operated on its own mindset, and played through (3) barely-functioning speakers on the opposite side of the car, in what sounded like my old AM transistor radio squashed ‘neath my pillow at night, bleeping through that pitiful, one-inch speaker.

So I turned to NPR talk for solace.

For a year-and-a-half, I swore I’d just let her die a peaceful death. NPR will do, I said. I figured I’d get a new car, and would be tossin’ her in the trash anyway. So bye-bye old darlin’. You served me well for ten years.

You see, she was installed in my 1994 GMC pickup, in the fall of 1993. A great head unit, CD changer, passive crossovers, triple amp’d, 800+ watts, and (8) Polk Audio speakers in an extended cab truck, with a 12-inch subwoofer built in the back.

In its day, twelve years ago, that system was the cat’s behind. I loved that system. And no, it wasn’t a boom-boom-mofo-kill-my-ho kinda thing, but rather, it played real music, the way it was meant to be heard. Jazz, vocals, oldies, blues, folk, pop, soul, and real country. This system was built for midrange. Solid, sweet, smooth midrange. Vocals, percussion, and acoustic guitar sang to those Polks.

Yngwie Malsteem’s guitar came alive in that vehicle. Linda Ronstadt’s flawless voice melting through those Polk Audios gave one the chills. A Horace Parlan groove was alive like fire, and better than Memorex. And speaking of Memorex, Ella Fitzgerald’s CD box set nearly lived in my CD changer in the old days.

Bach and Beethoven never sounded so good. Ahhh, the days.

Then a week or so ago, I thought, “Why not apply the defibrillator, and zap her back to life? Why be satisfied with the life we enjoyed together, and why just let her go downhill like this?” Winter was coming, and I needed my music back. I was tired of NPR, AM static, and the endless scan-a-thon.

So I started to fiddle. Late at night, in the garage, I bent, tweaked, stripped, and fussed. And I cussed. This old gal was gonna live, I said to myself. She ain’t leavin’ me yet.

So off I went and got a new heart for her. A middle-of-the-road Kenwood that I had installed by a local car audio shop. I didn’t spend another penny. I got by on good luck and a little love for the old gal. I stripped some old wires, and cleaned up some ugly connections. I performed some minor, cosmetic surgery on the subwoofer. I decided I could live with an in-dash CD player, and bemoan the lost luxury of the changer.

I flipped in my first CD, which was a mix of web downloads, rife with vocals, bass, and big beats. And there it was! That good old midrange, just like I remembered it. And bass aplenty. Going on Year 13, and that system still had it. Some Eminem shook the rear windows like jelly, Ella crashed through the midrange, and sweet classical gave the tweeters a new reason to live. At super-loud volumes, the clarity was still magnificent.

My system was back, as good as it ever was. The guys in the shop laughed and laughed and laughed. How could something so

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