At the mall the classical section of CDs is small

if not demeaning as in smaller stores. Among

the expected—Andrea Bocelli, Carl Orff, compilations

for relaxation—you find oddities: Scandinavian

oratorios, a version of the Latin mass based

on African chant, great works performed by orchestras

of obscure European cities at bargain prices.


Suddenly I see myself decades ago:

Saturday afternoons in the dim Sixth Avenue

Record Haven, flipping through dusty bins

of LPs, searching for works I’d never heard of

or never heard, music I could afford to buy

and would always love. I still own Record Haven

treasures, with generic jackets, with an extra hole punched

near the center, marking what washed up there

as discontinued titles and overstock.


Watching always from bin after bin, from dozens

of albums, was Guiomar Novaes. Her label used

cheap album art, pastel backgrounds framing the same

black-and-white photo: Guiomar at…

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