Monday, April 11, 2011

A Record Of My Past

Deb: My husband and I just came home from a big show selling old vinyl records. Cash only, bartering welcome. We went down just to see what we would see and to make a few purchases.

Nothing gives me more joy than popping a disc on the record player. Slipping the vinyl out of its sleeve, blowing the dust off, and gingerly placing the needle on the thick groove at the edge.

What comes next is the lovely scratch of anticipation, then––BOOM––instant time machine.

When I was a kid, records were my pride and joy. I would actually carry around a fave album at school with my schoolbooks like it was a baby. I remember Led Zeppelin 2 actually having the welt of my handprint on it.

Today, at the record show, that history was for sale. Boxes and boxes of albums, some carefully labelled alphabetically and others tossed randomly in a crate. People were pouring through them searching for their own musical treasures of the record player age.

I was looking for my own memories. Specifically, for good copies of albums I already had that were scratched beyond recognition. And oh, the treasures I found. First was an album called Nucleus. Mine had been played and played and played until its only use was as a serving tray. And I found it. Nucleus. Perfect condition. Then I found The Eagles Long Run, perfect condition. Then I found a Beach Boys Christmas Album and a very rare Beatles album with a cover I have never seen in my life. Snapped them up! The cold hard cash we were carrying was gone in fifteen minutes. There were no bank machines and we were empty. Spent, literally. As we were strolling out the door I was grinning like a gargoyle clutching my albums, feeling all Grade 11.

Suddenly something caught my eye. Led Zeppelin 2. A beam of light shot from the heavens and pointed me right to it. Original packaging, NEVER BEEN OPENED. Heart pounding, I approached gingerly. And I was playing it so cool. LIES. Not cool at all. Covetous. Approaching maniacal. Picked it up and read the price. $60.00. Fair price for a masterpiece, UNLESS YOU DON’T HAVE THE DOUGH ON YOU. So we left and realized that we forgot to get the seller’s card.

So please, send a prayer to the rock and roll gods to give me a chance at that album again. That pristine perfect platter of my past. I will NOT fail the next time. I will search and I will find it. But till then, I will “ramble on, and now’s the time, the time is now to sing my song.” And I will. It will be a scratchy duet. But when I get a good clean copy, I will dance the dance of the air guitar and it will be sweet! “Leaves are falling all around, time I was on my way-ay!”

Barbara: Mmmmm, real records. Now that triggers a surge of nostalgia in me like almost nothing else. When I was growing up, my dad worked in the record industry and I got most of my LPs for free. Yes, we had the requisite photos hanging on our walls of him posing with industry luminaries: The BeeGees, John Mellencamp, The Village People (shut up!). Music was always playing in our house, whether it was classical, opera, rock, or the soundtrack from the latest hot new movie musical Grease

So buying my first album with my very own hard-earned money was definitely a rite of passage that I came to much later than most teens. But I remember it well: The Cars by The Cars. Oh my. Sex in music. I could’ve listened to it all day. And, yes, the scratchy sound, the lack of crisp clarity were all part of the aural charm.

Unlike you, Deb, I don’t have a player hooked up anymore, but Phil and I have talked about setting one up. Your post just makes that urge that much stronger. I love my CDs (and legally paid for downloads), but there is something about that classic, making-out-in-dark-basements vibe of the good ‘ol record that beckons.


  1. Sadly, my first album wasn't that cool: KC &the Sunshine Band. But at the age of 8 I knew all the words even if I didn't get their meaning.

  2. Tsumicat, it may not have been heavy metal but it will always be your first album and that's cool! My first record was a 45 called "Johnny Angel" by Shelly Fabares. Cool? To me it was the coolest!!!!!!

  3. My Grandparents who I basically grew up with had and still have a record player. They had every kind of record . While they had things like Elvis which they are big on and I ended up listining too ALOT ALOT they also had things like the beatles which I also got to hear so much. Those were the biggest kinds of albums for them but like I said they have a huge collection and you kind find every kind of album in there and every kind of music.

  4. Yeah me too Lyndsie,
    I just brought the last of my Mom and Dad's records over to my house and he is not playing them anymore which breaks my heart. But wow, do they take me back to my kidhood, listening and loving, Nat King Cole, Frank, The Kingston Trio, Jackie Gleason, Four Lads, Ella, and even an eight album set of Sir Lawrence Olivia doing Hamlet that Dad listened to over and over and over. LOVE IT.

  5. B,
    we've got tons of old vinyl in boxes in the basement (thanks in part to your Dad) and a great Thorens turntable. Say the word and I'll hook it back up!
    FYI: first LP I ever bought with my allowance $ was Led Zeppelin IV...and it's in one of those boxes!

  6. If you don't hook it up Pongobaz, I shall be over with cold hard cash to take those albums off your hands!:-)

  7. My first 45 was A White Sport Coat, when I was 8 years old. My first album was The Beatles (Beatlemania) in 1964. I LOVED that album. Sadly, in a crazy moment of cleansing, I sold all of my albums at a garage sale. What I wouldn't give to have Delaney and Bonnie's Soul Shake back. And Led Zeppelin 2! You HAVE to find that guy, Deb.

  8. Pongobaz: "word" oh yes oh yes "word". Let's do it, babe.

    Anne, weird how so many of us thought records were "extra junk" for a while there. Not any more...

  9. Delany and Bonnie's Soul Shake. YES. Added to the list Anne.

  10. I have been collecting CDs for the past few years (I just don't like buying digital music - it's so intangible) and have started collecting vinyl records (by 'started' I mean I have only one at this stage haha - but it's a start).
    It's not easy as they are pretty rare these days (especially in such a small market as NZ), but fortunately I'm into punk music, and it seems that a lot of punk bands are still into producing vinyl records :-) But I bought my first (and so far - only) record earlier this year. Pored through the music shop for a while before realising they sell records (albeit only about 50 max) and found the one I'd been after - London Calling by The Clash. I have it on CD already but love love love it!
    I don't have a vinyl player yet though so my new record is just sitting untouched in my cabinet. But I'm saving up for one of these little beauties: :-)
    I wonder if someone runs a vinyl auction fair around where I live sometimes?
    Good luck with your pursuit for your coveted Led Zepplin album Deb! and Barb - hook that sucker up! I'm so jealous you got so many records for free! I think I'm in the wrong industry :-P

  11. Elle that little red record player is a dream! Love it. London Calling-very good buy! Check online, there must be something in your hood. Some of my friends have bought their records at garage sales, estate sales and flea markets! Good luck, you're off to a great start.

  12. my first 45 was Nancy Sinatra: these boots are made for walking-first album: beatles, rubber soul. I have led zeppelin and other classic greats in my album collection that's in our house, and my husband has even more. we have a turntable, and my 17-year old, a musician, has both albums and turntables in his room. there is NOTHING like the scratchiness of a pre-song and then the slow launch into a cohesive set of music that has a planned out trajectory. I was just talking to my son about how different albums are: how they tell a story, and how they are an entire experience....the artwork relates to the story the album tells. most songs today are pop piecemeal. there is one current group--mumford & sons--that has a cd that is very album-like. we are all obsessed with it.

  13. Oh D from A - the HOURS we spent in your bedroom and my rec room with our portable record players! Was there even a breath between Barbie and the Beatles?

  14. gae polisner has left a new comment on your post "Blog Post Winner":

    oh. my. god.


    Deb, you are RAVISHING. Ravishing, I say! Sexy, funny, deliriously good. And Colin, oh, Colin.

    You have no idea how I admired you as you danced down the runway in that red dress. No twentysomething in the whole wide world got anything on you, girl.

  15. Oh how I use to love listening to my records. My mom told me that by my first birthday I knew how to run the record player and listened to my stories and music constantly. First album I bought was The Beatles Greatest Hits. My parents records introduced me to the Fifth Dimension, The Lettermen, The Beach Boys, The Ventures and of course, a lot more of the Beatles. All music I still love to listen too. I pulled out a few of my old records several months ago and my kids looked at me and said, "What are those?" My how times have changed.

  16. Gae you are very kind my dear. And I agree that the only difference between 20 something and moi, is Spanx! And just sos ya knows, this comment of yours did not appear on the blog, just in email, so I copied and pasted on Barb's suggestion. C from A, you are so right. I loved the between Barbie and the Beatles! No time, no time at all. And Johnny Angel, do you remember who that was for? Who my 8 year old self loved, not Chester? Lori Rubber Soul is my fave album of all time so I hear you! YOU are so right about the album art and I will check out Mumford and Sons but in the meantime "are you ready boots, start walking, dum dum du du du dum dum du du du dum dum..."

  17. Molly aren't they the greatest memories? I used to listen to a 45 over and over when I was little called Tina the Ballerina. I would KILL to find it again. It even had a little theme song.

  18. I'm making it my mission to check out one of the Amoeba Records stores in California. I'm hoping to head that way sometime next year... I may end up spending my entire holiday in there!!! :-D


  19. My earliest album memories are 2 albums my parents had. I was a very little girl. We still lived in Pensacola so that means I was 3 and younger. I remember hearing over and over again an album from some movie that had Raindrops Keep Fallin On My Head and the Elton John album that had Crocodile Rock on it. Those songs are such early musical memories for me that those songs are melded together in my memory with riding my rocking horse and stacking wooden blocks and other toddler play. (I was born 12/31/72.) I also remember all the way back my entire life the Chipmunks Christmas Album and and that our Disney Christmas album had a scratch on it so one of the songs skipped.

    From about preschool/kindergarten age onward until I was of an age to have a stereo, I had a blue, plastic Sears record player. The case was blue, and the top was white. It could play LP's, or I could put a little plastic ring on the stick in the middle so 45's would fit. It also had a 78 setting so I could listen to really old records. I remember my babysitter handed down her old fairy tale story 45's to me, a whole stack of them. My favorites were The Emperor's New Clothes and Jack and the Beanstalk.

    But, music wise, I was, am, and always will be a through and through 80's New Wave girl. My first favorite band was Blondie. When I was 7 years old, my mother's friend Janet gave me Call Me on 45 vinyl because she knew I sang along to all the Blondie songs on the radio. I still remember the Chrysalis logo on the label. I would sing along to it and dance around the living room. To this day, I listen to a lot of Blondie. I wish I still had that first 45 from Janet!

    Later on, another 45 that got a lot of play in my bedroom was West End Girls by The Pet Shop Boys.

    Albumwise, as a little girl, I could sing along to every single word of my Mary Poppins soundtrack album and my Annie (the 1982 movie) soundtrack album. I also sang along over and over again to the Grease soundtrack. When my father got the soundtrack album to the first Superman movie, during summer vacation if I got up before my mom in the morning, I'd go into the living room still in my nightgown, start it on the stereo, plug in the big headphones, and curl up in his recliner pressing the headphones as tightly to my ears as I could. I would close my eyes and take the music in. That album was my first experience of what listening to an orchestra could feel like.

    Once I moved into my middle/high school years and came into my musical own, my 2 most treasured vinyl albums were Sting's Dream of the Blue Turtles and Peter Gabriel's So.

    Sadly, shortly after that came my full shift to cassette. And, then to CD while in college.

    I no longer have any of the vinyl of my youth.

    If I could have one vinyl album right now as a collectible, it would be either Blondie's Parallel Lines or Blondie's Autoamerican.

    If I were to seriously collect vinyl, I'd collect early blues pressings from the 1920's and 1930's. I love gritty old blues music.

  20. Oh, I forgot to mention that when I was very little, I really, really liked the sets that were a 45 record and a story book. There was a little chime sound when it was time to turn the page. The first one I had was an ABC story book. It is literally the first record I ever remember owning.

    I still have my original Star Wars 45 vinyl and storybook set packed away somewhere. When I first saw Star Wars when it very first came out, I wanted R2D2 for a little brother.

  21. My parents are huge music lovers (esp. classic rock) and I grew up with it playing from morning to night. They still have their record player and records, but they aren't used as much - the internet age does help when they need a new needle!

  22. Blondie and Star Wars Rigel! Well done. Star wars will be worth something someday for sure.
    Erica and Christie, maybe you will be inspired to buy that new needle and spin some discs!
    Elle in California you will find Mecca with the discs! Have fun. Already jealous.

  23. Oh Deb, I loved listening to Tina the Ballerina! I wonder if we had the same 45. If I ever find it, I'll let you know.

  24. Do you remember the K-Tel hit collections? I used to listen to them for hours with my ear pressed up to the speaker. The first album that I bought out of my own babysitting earnings was Yellow Brick Road. I still love to listen to it, although now we have it on cd.

  25. I'm afraid I came along just a bit too late for the records. But I do remember being very small and Momma playing her records. She said she liked the cassette tapes, but they just weren't quite as good as those records. Now she has a massive record collection, but nothing to play them on. Hmm, I think I see a record player in her future, possibly as a Mother's Day gift. What do y'all think?

  26. Molly I think through Rigel sending me an audio sample of it, I have discovered that mine was actually a 78!!! Sydney I loved the K-Te collections. I will go through my albums and let you know which ones I have. April a record player for you Mom would be such a nice gift. It would be so lovely to keep her out of the room and when she comes in, one of her fave albums is playing on the record player with the big bow around it!

  27. Which Beatles album is it, Deb?
    Please tell me it is the one that starts with Hey Jude.
    That is the one that has never been made into a CD. It is my absolute favourite, discovered at age 12, and has no obvious name or title but includes Ballad of the Old Brown Shoe, Paperback Writer, and so on.

  28. OK Deb, I did a little research of my own. I also found an audio clip of the Tina the Ballerina I use to listen too. It was a 78 as well. (I was really little, I didn't know the difference between a 45 and 78 except one was big, one was small, and I had to adjust the speed of the record.)

    The one I found is from Peter Pan Records. It might be the same one you listened to. What a fun coincidence.

  29. I missed the records era, but Dad would always play them when we were little. One of his favorites was the sountrack to "The Jungle Book." I'm pretty sure he wore it out. My favorite was always the one by Chicago, not sure what the name of the album was.

    There is definitley something special of the sound of the needle on vinyl. It always takes me back to times spent dancing with Dad around the living room :)

  30. *happy squee* Jungle Book Soundtrack! You just reminded me that I had that when I was wee little!

    Look for the bear necessities...

  31. Molly it is not that one I am afraid. It is a re-release with a new cover. It is called Beatles Rock and Roll. It was a 78 and thanks I am on the hunt! Ruth I love the "dancing with Dad around the living room" Love it.
    Rigel our fave over and over again with the boy was Jungle Book. Could NOT love it more. Ooh e ooh I wanna be like you hoo hoo!

  32. That's a great idea, Deb! Thanks! I'll definitely have to remember that one...

  33. Record Store Day is on Saturday 16th and I've just found out that there are a couple of stores kind of nearby where I live (kinda meaning the nearest is an hour cross-country drive away) that will be participating! I'm excited!!!


  34. April I hope you find a good turntable. Mine are not fancy. I would love to get a really good restored one this year, rather than a new one. And Elle I cannot wait to hear of your finds. Have fun!

  35. I think I still have my old favorites in the garage. Loved the feel. No player for me either.

  36. (can't sleep tonight)

    Deb, my favorite Jungle Book song way back when I was tiny was the marching song the elephants sang.
    I'd march back and forth in the living room while singing along to the song. But, I had to be careful that I wasn't too stomp-y while marching or I'd make the record skip.

    My second favorite was the pretty song the little girl sang.

    I didn't like Trust in Me because Kaa scared me. (I didn't like his hypnotizing eyeballs.)

    I also just remembered that I had the Aristocats soundtrack. (It's weird remembering these vinyl albums I had when I was like 3 and 4 years old!)
    Over and over and over again, I played these 2:

    Everybody Wants to be a Cat
    (Looking at that clip now as an adult, I really like the animation artwork.)

    Scales and Arpeggios
    I remember when I was, well it was before kindergarten, resetting the needle on the record player to this song over and over again because I liked to sing along to it.

    Wow, I had forgotten about the Aristocats songs. I know we had that album when we still lived in Pensacola so I had to have been 3 or less.

  37. The first record album I remember getting is the soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever." It was a big deal, too, because it had cost my mother $6.00. I literally can't understand the lines to most of the songs (ala "Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy"), but I know the inflections of them all. Yay for disco! I also had other albums, mostly of the K-Tel variety, but I hadn't bought any of my own personal choosing yet.

    The first albums I bought came as a result of my father belonging to one of those "get 12 free albums now and buy only 12 more in the next year" clubs. He never found anything he liked, so I'd get the selections and pay for the shipping. The first ones I got were Journey's "Escape" and the Go Gos' "Beauty and the Beat."

    BIG choices. "Don't Stop Believin'" is one of my 2 all-time favorite songs (the other being "Come Sail Away" by Styx.) The Go Gos are ever present on my iPod and bring me back to FUN.

    I still own the albums, most of which are now unplayable, due to poor storage issues. But the memories remain fresh and unscratched.


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