A Novel About Giving the Gift of Music

Deal W. Hudson
January 14, 2018

There’s a new and delightful novel, The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce, which I’m kicking myself for not having written first.

The setting is a music shop whose owner, Frank, refuses to sell anything but vinyl LPs in the face of the Compact Disc whose introduction in the mid-80s quickly shrank the demand for anything else. (Now 30 years later, vinyl is back, comprising nearly 9% of all recordings sold in 2017.)

But in addition to his stubbornness, Frank has an unusual gift: he’s able to intuit what music will lift the spirits of his customers, regardless of their familiarity with it or not. One curmudgeonly customer arrives in a dour mood insisting on nothing but Chopin but leaves the shop having fallen in love with Aretha Franklin, her voice “a little boat and the music a Japanese wave.”

Like Rachel Joyce, I believe music has an unusual, almost mystical, power to reach the human heart, and, in doing so, to heal, comfort, and inspire. Though Frank is a musical shaman, his feelings of love only reach out in compassion to others. He keeps his own tightly bound up inside himself as he sits day after day behind the counter placing his precious vinyl on the turntable.

Then one day, a woman named Ilse faints on the sidewalk in front of the store. Frank goes to her aid and finds himself gazing into “eyes like vinyl.” He instantly falls in love, and the feeling, it seems, is mutual. The following scene where the author describes Frank taking Ilse inside the store following their dance of glances and patter of conversation is a gem. She eventually must leave but her purse is left behind. Did she do this on purpose to have an excuse to return? Frank wonders, and so do the group of misfits who work with Frank and the few remaining shops on Unity Street.

They all want Frank to find love and happiness, to experience something of the happiness he has elicited in others with his gift of music. As the novel progresses, it remains uncertain whether Frank will ever open his heart.  Yes, the issue for Frank is that simple, which makes Joyce’s novel so very appealing.

I predict that music itself will have the last word…..

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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