If I were to measure this list solely by sentimental markers this book would be at the top. Number one. Here's why.
This book is an oral history of my favorite band The Replacements. Those who know me know that 'favorite band' is an understatement of colossal proportions. The Replacements are in my DNA.
So the book has that going for it. Jim Walsh, a musician, rock journalist and longtime friend of the band, interviewed anyone and everyone who had been part of the scene The Replacements came out of. Paul Westerberg declined to be interviewed which is only just seeing as his words and voice dominate the discussion as it is. And this band doesn't have 18 gold records and meticulous rock historians cataloging their every move. This book is crucial because all of this happened before it was easy to chronicle every fucking second of every fucking day.
But the real reason that this book means so much to me has nothing to do with The Replacements or music or the book itself.
It has to do with my son Cashel and how much he means to me and who he is. (In a related sidenote, I have only ever asked for one autograph in my life...I had Paul Westerberg autograph Cashel's school photo when I saw him play in Anaheim...he softly said, "He looks like Johnny', his son...a very sweet moment).
The book was published in November of 2007. Cashel was 10. I'd talked about the book, knew it was coming out, couldn't wait to get it. Cashel and Melody conspired to get it for me for Christmas.
Now, Cash was in elementary school at the time and blossoming. He'd finally settled in at Roosevelt Elementary and was shaking off the effects of three big moves (NY to Maine/Maine to TX/TX to CA) in two years. I would walk from my job to his school every day and walk him home. We would have time to kill until his mom came home from work.
Here is where Barnes and Noble comes into the picture. We would mosey over to the 3rd Street Promenade and browse the stacks. Cashel would find the latest book he was interested in, I would do the same and we would sit in our little corner and read. It was here that he convinced me that he could go down to the lower level by himself to get another book. It was here that we talked about how to handle adversity in school, handle his emotions, something I was in the process of doing myself.
One day in November we walked in as usual. Before we went up the escalator to the kid section, I stopped to browse in the Music Section.
Cash saw the book before I did and draped himself in front of it nonchalantly, hiding his Christmas present from me.
Now, I'd known the book was out but I'd deliberately not looked at it because Melody had forbidden me to do so, seeing as it was going to be my Christmas present.
So the history of the band that I'd desperately fallen in love with in high school was now contained in a hardcover book hidden behind my ten year old son Cashel as he tried to convince me to go upstairs.
I've read it three times since then. Cashel is two years older and in middle school. Rumors of a Replacements reunion have been swirling louder than ever. I hope it is delayed until Cash is old enough to go. I'll hide the tickets from him and pretend we are going to some boring dinner party.
I'll never forget him in front of that bookshelf, as if he could possibly conceal what he'd already given me, as if the gift was the book, as if he needed to give me anything at all.