The Recording


Wolfe's comments from the Introduction to Storeys from the Old Hotel

"'The Recording' drew the comment 'At last! Calling it like it is!' from Isaac Asimov. If that isn't enough to make you want to read it, what would be?"


The anonymous narrator recounts a childhood incident where his Uncle Bill took him to buy a phonograph record. After a heavy lunch Bill took ill, but rather than fetching a doctor, the narrator went on to buy the record -- returning to find Uncle Bill dead. Struck by the childish fear that Uncle Bill's dying voice would reproach him from the record, the narrator never played it: until finally doing so at an advanced age, and finding that no such thing happened, prompted the telling of the story.


  • It seems that the narrator has in a sense been haunted and reproached by his dead uncle, whether he realized it or not.
  • The song that the narrator finally hears is "My Time is Your Time" by Rudy Vallee. The narrator is now overweight and has heart problems, just as Uncle Bill did. Could the lyrics be a message to him that he will die at the same age as his uncle?

Unresolved Questions

  • Is Wolfe, in his comment in the Introduction reproduced above, sarcastically implying that Asimov missed the point of the story -- perhaps taking the last line "So much for superstition" at face value? (Asimov being a noted rationalist, whereas Wolfe attaches great importance to guilt.)

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