Nov 2, 2012

New Stacks of Vintage Vinyl

After my Grandma passed this summer, we each received care packages that had a bunch of different mementos.  When asked, I was all too happy to have her old record player and inherit her collection of campy German records.  My vinyl collection up to this point was almost exclusively awful records from thrift stores and garage sales that I simply wanted for their cover art.

My aunt Bev, noticing my interest, offered me her old record player and collection too. The thing was, her collection was actually amazing.  While in Calgary on my way back from Vegas, I stopped to load up the Jag with my care package of Grandma's things as well as two crates of records from my aunt.  That night back at home, I set up my Grandma's old record player and started digging through the crates.  I really didn't have high expectations for what I'd find, but only a few minutes in I was already hooked. 

I pulled out original presses of Rolling Stones albums like Sticky Fingers and Let it Bleed. There was Billy Idol, the Police, George Harrison, Pink Floyd, Gensis, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, the Traveling Wilburys, Stevie Wonder, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, and even the original release of Michael Jackson's Thriller. I have so many of these albums and artists on my iPod, and grew up listening to a lot of these through my parents.  Seeing all of this tangible music was really cool.  On top of it all, I was discovering liner notes and artwork that I'd never seen before.

Listening to records is an experience steeped in a nostalgia that I never really got to experience.  The crackling audio is actually enhanced by the time you take looking at the artwork, reading the notes, and scanning the covers.  It's not the same as a CD, as these giant cardboard panels command more attention and their presentation is more elaborate; multi-folding covers, decorated sleeves, etc.  

In addition to this, you actually interact with the record by moving the needle to select the songs you want to hear.  After years of nothing but iTunes and CDs, the action of changing sides after 4 or 5 songs and then putting everything back in its sleeve requires you to be a bit more engaged. It's kind of endearing and makes listening to music an activity, instead of a supplement to something else.  There's also the appreciation you get from knowing that this is what this music sounded like when it first came out.  No digital remastering or alteration, this is how it was.  The quality isn't great, the technology is cumbersome, and there's not really a practical reason to listen to records anymore.  Maybe that's why I enjoy it so much.  I love the history of places and things that have fallen from significance - there's a romance to it all.  I look forward to my continued vinyl discoveries in the coming weeks, and hope to share more soon. 

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