Geez, I didn’t realize what a relic I was until I pulled out my old record albums and started playing them. It’s Urban Outfitter’s fault. I bought a Crossley turntable from them in the hopes that my husband and I would have a blast replaying songs from our youth. I hoped to recapture the same feelings I experienced whenever those albums were played. The Rampal record which featured Japanese melodies was one of my favorites and could always put me in a mellow, happily introspective mood. My Yo Yo Ma was for when I had visitors and wanted some cool background music.
I guess it’s the same thing when you download music you really like to your device, but there was a glorious feeling to hold a newly purchased record in your hand. To run out of the store knowing that all that music belonged to you now. We were proud of our record collections. Having worked at Columbia records, I had an impressive collection, although it was my friend Peter who scoured the company’s music catalog and told me “you’ve got to have this one!”
When I married my husband, he had been a DJ, so his collection was even bigger. Because he loves to experiment with different types of music, his collection was also better. We were enamored of our combined record collections. We treated the vinyl with respect -- keeping fingerprints off and delicately wiping down the dust from each record before we played it. And then the record album fell by the wayside to make room for the all-encompassing, perfect sound of the CD.
We sold and gave away a lot of records, but we kept our favorites.
Now, I thought, with the new turntable I was going to breathe life into those comatose circles of vinyl. They had been waiting for me to give them their stage once more. I pulled out the Rampal, carefully set the needle down -- something I hadn’t done for years, and heard that precious crackling which proudly stated, “This is a vinyl record.”
But instead of hearing soothing Japanese melodies I began hearing the soundtrack to a horror flick. My Rampal had warped. I quickly put on one of my other favorites, “The Bessie Smith Story, Vol 2.” Ack! Warped again. Bessie wasn’t Bessie anymore. Even my Yo Yo Ma had fallen prey to time spent in a cardboard coffin.
I immediately fell prey to my own thoughts. Was I warped now? Had my youth gone the way of my vinyl records and could never replayed? It was a depressing thought, to say the least, and I put my hand to my face to make sure I was still a person.
Time takes its toll; that is true. But I can’t throw my records out. Thumbnail cover photos on a small electronic device don’t hold a candle to feeling the glossy smoothness of a record album cover. And I can still worship the process of reading the cover’s information, pulling the vinyl from the sleeve, and setting it on the turntable. The music was not instantaneous. You had make preparations. It took work, but the reward was hearing the music. Working to have a reward is a good thing. Getting what you want instantaneously gives you the false impression that the entire world works that way. As I mulled over these deep thoughts, I attached my IPhone to the stereo and put on my favorite playlist. Ah, well…