Saturday, October 27, 2018

A Remembrance of Lavell Williams

Angel in the back of a Record Store...

Lavell Williams was (and forever will be) sage-like, to me... 

I never got to tell him how much it meant to me, an awkward, shy, naive, self-doubting 15-year-old, to walk into a sanctuary of sounds, of hipness, of preserved-and-emerging culture, like Downtown Ferndale's now-12-years'-gone Record Time store..., ... and navigate my way past the tattoo'ed 20-something clerks who gave me the requisite dubious look-down-their-nose at this JC-Penny-fashioned kid who probably just wants a Red Hot Chili Peppers album or something else lame, to scurry past so as to avoid their gaze and not invite any judging comments...and find this affable, radiant, chill-voiced Saint in the back, behind a counter, shuffling through vinyl records...

He greets me, invites me, includes me...., asking me what I was looking for, what I was into, suggesting the local section..., the techno section..., opening my mind! Making me feel welcome. He instantly initiated me into the cool club with such subtlety and grace...and kindness. He was the manager of this store, so if I was in with him, I was definitely IN! Best of all, he spoke to me as though I were a fellow adult. Nay, a fellow student of music - a fellow disciple of recorded sounds. It was as if to say: "'re here, aren't you? You must be passionate. You must be curious. You're arrival through the doors of my store demonstrates as thus--so let me show you around." 

And so, ...with music having become such an important and integral part of literally every single day of my life, 20 years later, I can't overstate the importance of him waving me into the store...I am heartbroken to hear of his passing this morning. Lavell taught me to never be closed to anyone...To invite those curious and help them discover more. We don't have to preach to them and we don't have to vent or be necessarily vulnerable. Just let them into your club. Admit that there shouldn't be clubs. Open up to them! 

If you are in a band, or if you work at a gallery, or if you paint, or if you take photographs, or if you teach Yoga..., you can just about change a life in the span of three minutes by engaging with someone--most likely someone younger than you--and encouraging them. You don't have to show them the ropes, per se, but--just like Lavell, you can gesture to the ropes and let that younger explorer go forward and start climbing. Thank you for being so bright, warm, kind, thoughtful and compassionate Lavell... RIP. 

An interview with Lavell, from the Detroit Sound Conservancy

No comments: