Give an old record a loving home! Today is the eighth annual Record Store Day, so visit one of your local independently owned shops, browse the bins, and pick up a platter full of sound that you can actually hold in your hands — a shiny groooovy disc with a sleeve that doesn’t require a magnifying glass to read! And even if you no longer have a way to spin the record, stop in anyway. You’ll marvel at those old LP covers and find yourself saying, “I had that one…and that one…and OH, I forgot all about that one!” It’s like taking a trip in a time machine.
To me, a record has presence, with its lovely grooves like audio fingerprints. You not only hear the sound, you feel it. With every revolution the sharp but devoted little needle skates upon its grooves so gracefully, waking it to life. Every pop and crackle reminds you that it’s real, not just a bunch of digital signals. Cherish the scratches, for they are a reflection of how much you’ve loved and played the disc.
I’m proud to say that I still own all of my vinyl gems – from the well-worn Beatles’ “She Loves You” single that came from the jukebox in my grandparents’ bar, to my parents’ sleeveless Bill Haley LP, “Rock-n-Roll Stage Show,” which was probably the first recording I ever heard. My LPs sit erect in their shelves near my desk. When I’m stumped for ideas, I glance over at their worn spines for inspiration. I can usually recall where and roughly when I bought each and every one of them — and what I was feeling at the time. Every stage of my life is reflected in those discs: my childhood with the Beatles, my tween days with Elton and Cat, my hard rocking period with Zeppelin and The Stones, my “tortured soul” writer phase with Bob Dylan.
I confess that during the CD craze of the late 1980s I was excited to buy those newfangled grooveless wonders. Sony ruled supreme back then (they made the first CD players) and convinced me the discs would deliver the finest sound ever experienced. I even bought CDs of some treasured LPs that I had owned since childhood. But I never got rid of my LPs, my 45s, or my three turntables – including my favorite, the Sanyo that I scrimped and saved for an entire semester to buy back in 1978. Once I discovered that I could digitize my collection, I spent hours converting analog signals to digital files so that I could burn CDs to play in my car. I never bothered using the noise reduction feature that came with the audio capture software. The snap, crackle, pop makes me nostalgic.
And yes, I do download music when I get that late-night craving for a new tune or an old one that I missed the first time around. But records will always rule and I’ll champion them forever. In the words of one of my favorite groups, 10cc:
Here I am a record on a jukebox
A little piece of plastic with a hole, ooh
Buy me and you play me then my plastic turns to gold.
So, take a step back in time and go out and visit a record store. Talk to the owner, chat with other music lovers, and smile as you thumb through those old LPs that you haven’t seen in 30-plus years. It will do your soul good.
If you live in the Pittsburgh area, home of yer blogger, click here to see a list of today’s Record Store Day events.
© Dana Spiardi, April 18, 2016