Recently, I electronically witnessed someone taking a stab at records, more so ‘rolling their eyes’ at elitists who regard vinyl as the highest quality recording possible. While it wasn’t the distaste for delusion that upset me, I caught a hint of that “so screw old records” that didn’t exactly settle well.
Oh, my chrome, coded robot friends. How to make you understand.
The initial reaction, naturally, was to gossip to someone who understood. Motor City Bob (now Roberto Serrai in this phase of his life but always MCB to me). Bob is so mod. He has those fuckin’ black frames, you know the ones, academic extraordinaire, big brain full of past. I keep a collection of his letters, type-written like the best of them, and piles of Springsteen bootlegs with thorough explanation. One of the Cool Rockin’ Daddies.
I have retrieved records from my father’s tornado-like stacks of 45’s and read them for fortunes and life clues (It’s Over, Tell Him, Stand On It, etc). I’ve explored musty sleeves for handwritten notes in ink, linear commentary, traces and secrets of my dad’s life. I’ve taped vinyl recordings onto cassette so I could go out to the swing set in my back yard and just swing my little ass off, eventually preferring the cracks and hisses to smooth, CD versions. Vinyl, to me, is family.
Vinyl is history, memories, time gone by and found again. It’s an experience – a way of discovering something just as it was. Vinyl is also new, a different sound. Just the physical act of playing it, collecting it, moving the needle’s wand, watching that disc spin around and around…is an art.
My personal record player has been the only spot where my cat cannot reach and destroy the Christmas poinsettia.
I told my friend Bob about the assault on the big, black disc. Hadn’t spoken to him for two years or so (I’m a crappy friend, it’s nothing new). He swiftly sent a reply (making everything okay):
“Vinyl, first of all, smells good. You bring it home in those square, plastic bags sporting the name of your record dealer of choice, and that is a way to mark your territory. Vinyl is redolent of time, sweat and industry (as in “manufacturing”). Vinyl was and is for the working class. It’s hot, sleek, steamy, sexy, shiny as it can be. And it cracks, hops, hisses, clicks, and it all feels good because it speaks of being alive…”
And huge kudos to the mysterious Elton who found this post and commented anonymously:
Preparing a record for play is a little like the Japanese Tea making ceremony. Everything is respected and has to be done in order. First select the record. Prepare the turntable by selecting the correct speed. Carefully extract the chosen record from its cover and protective sleeve and examine for dust. If dust present, carefully remove, before placing record on the turntable. Unhook the tone arm and prepare over the start of the record. Lower tone arm onto record. Sit back and enjoy the delicious analogue recording, it’s warm and mellow sound that resonates through your ears and stimulates the aural network of the brain [if there is such a thing … and if not, there should be!]. Prepare to repeat in about 20 minutes. And there you have it, just my 2 pennies worth. Salutations from across the pond. Elton :)
MCB’s uncut blurb, for kicks…