Friday, October 21, 2005

The joy of vinyl

Compact discs are handy. They're obviously compact and portable. Most of them don't skip.

I have a confession, though: I miss those spinning discs that were called "LPs," or long-play albums, that have mostly disappeared from record-store shelves.

Maybe the nostalgia for LPs is because it seemed more exciting to buy recorded music in my youth. I would rush home with my purchase, carefully remove the cellophane wrapping, and smell the sweet scent of new vinyl.

The little hiss from the speakers as the needle made contact with the album's outer grooves was the sound of anticipation; then the music began.

Album covers were big enough to display real art. Many albums had double covers to open, and inside were lyrics to read along with the music, and memorize.

When I reallly "grooved" on a song, I could pick up the needle's arm, put the needle back to the beginning of the tune, and listen to it over and over again.

A biography of the performer(s) was usually printed on the back of the album cover, so I learned tidbits about these favorite artists. I never bought fan magazines.

Ah, the days of Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Marianne Faithful, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Folk-rock. Motown. The Beatles.

Then came the years of infamy, a black mark on the history of music: no, not disco, but eight-track tapes. Oh, horrors. They tangled. They dragged. Suddenly, voices descended three octaves and sounded like utterances of doom.

Nevertheless, the cool kids all had some kind of eight-track players in their cars. Never mind if they had to stop and deal with tape spewing from the players like spaghetti from a pasta maker, or if the machines' batteries died.

I refused to have anything to do with these afflictions on the ears and psyche of humanity.

A little later came cassettes, and for a long time, I was convinced they were just slightly different versions of eight-tracks, and not to be trusted.

Then came compact discs (CDs), just when I had finally installed a cassette player in my car. Sigh. I still drive around with a portable CD player plugged into my car's cigarette lighter, and I enjoy loading up my CD player at home.

Sometimes, though, I go to my old record player, relegated to the back room, and play some of my elderly albums. I still have the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline among a stack of albums that have survived the years.

I think I hear Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman calling me. Catch you later.

Betsy and Jack the Brat follow me to the back room to see what I'm doing. Would you believe my little baby Jack now weighs 11 pounds? He went to the vet today for his annual.


SmallGlimpses said...

nice post. (I have a cat who looks just like Jack. She's the youngest and smallest of our pet menagerie, though she rules the roost. We call Queen Molly.)

You all in Florida are much in my thoughts! Be safe!


Saint Pat said...

Thanks! I've seen so many cats that look like Jack since I've had him. None as adorable, of course, though I'm sure your Molly is equally charming.