There is a certain tactile pleasure in the little rituals required to play genuine vinyl.
I picked up a few of my late uncle’s LPs when I was in town in May for my grandfather’s memorial service (he passed a few days after my previous post here): Cream’s Disraeli Gears, Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, and a fresh copy of CSN&Y’s Déjà Vu — I’ve about played the grooves smooth in my copy. I have no excuse for why the previous two albums weren’t already in my collection, and I apologize from the very depths of my heart.
I find that I like centering the disk, centering the penny on the tone arm head, cleaning the disk. It’s the rite that summoneth forth the music.
Those of us over a certain age probably have certain prized possessions from the vinly age — The Beatles’ White Album on white vinyl, the Frampton Alive! picture disk, the Grateful Dead’s Touch of Gray 45 on gray vinyl, things like that. To that I also add a couple of Spike Jones shellac 78s. I remember the Little Golden Disk records of kids’ music when I was little — 45-sized, with an LP-sized hole, played at 78, with such memorable tunes as the Woody Woodpecker Polka.
I still find something sterile and remote to CDs and MP3s. No, I’m not going to claim that digital sound reproduction is inferior to the hiss, click and pop of an old record, or the kachunk of an eight-track changing tracks.
But it’s impersonal. Joe Average Music-Listener has days of music on their computers and can load gigs of it onto the player of their choice. Cue it up and go on with your life and don’t think about it.
Music is meant to be thought about, though.
There’s something inherently social to poring over a box of LPs with friends, trying to decide what the next music should be to maintain the current mood.
Meanwhile, I think I just found an old friend from the late 80s/early 90s — in a moment of free-association from this topic (thinking about the surprised and pleased look he gave me when I visited him in Akron and surprised him with my choice of the next album at a party: Genesis, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway), I tried to look him up on line and found someone who definitely matches all I know about him from that time.
Music is definitely magic.