Growing up, music was a huge deal. Over the years I learned a lot from my parents, my brothers, and my friends. Everything from Motown to Green Day, B.B. King to Paramore, ZZ Top to A Tribe Called Quest, Buddy Rich to Mighty Mighty Bosstones. You get the idea.
We were a tad late when it came to technology, for a number of reasons. It made no real difference to how often we consumed music though, and I’ll never forget my earliest memories of music in the house: my Dad’s record player and a collection of Beatles, Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and more from that era. It played while he was cooking, while we ate, and on into the evening before bed. My Dads vinyl was a cornerstone of life for a while, so it was only natural that I find myself tapping into the same vein now that it’s available to me.
I suppose it’s always been available, but for years I went for the cheaper and more portable versions of music players and so far into adulthood it’s been one of the keys to my sanity. But a few weeks ago, fate struck, and now I’m on a path that feels so….natural. Like putting on an old pair of boots, and wondering why you ever stopped wearing them in the first place.
As part of my blogging life I often get sent free stuff, whether its for promotion of said item or an item that is part of the promotion of some brand’s message. A few weeks ago I received a pleasant surprise that is already in full “rotation” so to speak.
I opened the box, and there it was: a suitcase record player. Smaller than a traditional briefcase and about half the weight of my 3 year old, wrapped in the classic faux leather, a solid plastic handle, and sporting a red velvet interior behind all the mechanics. It plays all three speeds (33, 45, 78) and it’s brand spanking new. The 45 it came with, featuring promotional music was pretty good, good enough to make me drop the needle as soon as possible. Beautiful.
Instantaneously though, while fiddling with it to get the promo disc on there, I knew the next step. First payday from my new job was coming up, and there is a universe of vinyl out there just waiting for me, and more importantly, for them. For my wife and my little girl to experience the magic. Because here’s the thing:
If you’ve never heard your favorite song on vinyl, you’ve never really heard it.
There’s a certain level of clarity, not with the sound per se, but for the soul. The music is physically cut into a large disk that is then played by dragging a needle across those ridges, producing the sound. It’s dirty, and it’s natural. It’s like nothing else. You pick up on the little inconsistencies and pick out the different sections of the song itself. It’s magic.
So it was time for my first trip, my first time buying vinyl. Or as my Dad called it “breaking your black cherry”. He was there of course, the perfect person for the job. Not to choose the music to listen too, but to let me know if the used stock we were perusing through was in good enough condition to spend the money on. He was my teacher yet again, as I took my time buying what I like to call “physical music”.
The Best of The Band:
The Band has always been one of my favorites, but admittedly only for the hits. It’s time I start looking deeper into their library, and I figure starting with a mix of my favorites and some I’ve never heard before is a good start.
Billy Joel-“The Stranger”:
I have never been a fan of Billy Joel. This album was one of a series of cd’s my oldest brother bought for me when we had a weekend together to just chat and get to know each other, something that we need every so often considering how far apart we were at that time. Not just in age (he’s 12 years older), but by the time I was in elementary school, he was in college. Getting to know him was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced, and this album is part of that.
Tears for Fears-“Songs From The Big Chair”:
One of my all time favorites for as long as I can remember. I don’t know who initially introduced it to me, but I do remember my brother Ash (9 years older than me) going on a binge of “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” for a week, and I was immediately in love with that song and this album. Not a want, but a need.
George Carlin-“Class Clown”:
The “must own” for comedy lovers. I’ve heard “The 6 Words You Can’t Say on Television” (a track from this album) more times than I can remember, but I’ve never listened to the whole album of the live recording from 1976. I can’t wait.
I dropped them off at home, picke up the little one from Day Care, made her food, and brought the record player into the kitchen. I had a few moments to myself with Tears for Fears, and then it was time to show her. She took to it completely natural as soon as I started to explain it too her. I let her touch it a few times, get one or two fingerprints on the already dirty album before it was properly cleaned. She loves it.
And now it begins, teaching her what I know and what I love. I can’t wait to see what she comes to love over the years, what I can offer her and what she brings home in the ways of music and the arts. It’s only the start. Another exciting part of being a parent, and a moment I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time.