A few weeks ago I did some really good things and decided I deserved a present. I’d been drooling over a record player, and decided it was time. I’ve always had a few records kicking around….leftovers from my mom, and ones I picked up along the way for no reason at all. Sticky Fingers with the real zipper, and the Cars Candy-O were the only ones I could find once I got my record player home.
I hadn’t played a record since I was probably 7, but assumed it was like riding a bike…or that 7 years of higher ed would make my crackle and pop dreams a reality. Wrong again. First, Sticky Fingers was all sticky melted and warped and just sort of violently threw itself off the table. Onto the Cars. As I lowered the needle thing onto the vinyl, it made an aggressive b line to the center of the record. Like a race to auditory hell. I ended up getting the flip side to play….butttttt there were only 3 songs on it. Short lived satisfaction.
Then….some days passed, I got busy, and forgot to get more records. Plus, the record player also plays CD’s, ipods, and TAPES….so I was embarrassingly content with my 3 Cars tracks, a Lana Del Ray cd, and a lone ranger Tag Team cassette single from 91. Yesterday afternoon, in the midst of my perfect little Sunday that included sleeping until 10:30 (an all time life record), I FINALLY made it to the best place to buy records on Earth, the River Street Beat Shop.
In here, I squandered a full hour thumbing through the milk crates and talking Troy gossip and music with the guys in there. ALL RECORDS WERE 1/2 priced and you knowwww I love a deal. I was specifically searching for Blonde on Blonde, Rumors, Aja, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and a new and improved Sticky Fingers.
I ended up with not only Aja, but a Steely Dan greatest hits double album….which basically has all of Aja plus pretty much any other SD you’d need to hear. For me at least. Rumors is tough to come by, but I did score Stevie Nicks’ cheesy 80′s masterpiece, Bella Donna, with gems like Leather and Lace and Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around. The only Elton records I could find were from the late 80′s and scared me. Blonde on Blonde is very elusive…..rightfully so. No Sticky Fingers either, BUT…..I’ve always loved the creepy cover of the greatest hits album, Through The Past Darkly, and it has 3 of my all time favorite/classic RS songs…….Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Dangerous), Let’s Spend The Night Together (Sexual), and She’s a Rainbow (Relaxed.)
It didn’t end there. Next thing I knew I was 2 Rod Stewart’s deep, with some Dire Straits, a little Pretenders, and to really round it out, Stan Getz…..andddddd Robert Palmer. I was pretty pleased with my work. And EVEN more pleased to get up to the register and end up paying TWENTY FIVE BUCKS for all of these great musical gems.
One thing I didn’t know about records was that I had to clean them, which sucks because I like cleaning as much as I like a sharp stick in the eye. I googled “how to clean my records” and found out I could to wash them like dishes and then they would sound better, which was disappointing and seemed like a lot of work for a Sunday.
Another thing about records is that they really require a lot of involvement, commitment, and personal responsibility. Gone are the days when you can throw on your ad-free Pandora and make out for 3 hours or whateverrrrrrrrr you kids are doing these days. No more endless supply of Ipod ear candy that just streams one 18 track album after another, with no input from you or effort on your end at all. Your Iphone doesn’t give a shit if you are still listening or if you are still feeling the playlist…..it just keeps going. All you have to do is not make your phone die and you are looking at endless hours of musical folly.
A record, you have to touch every 4 songs. It’s like the newborn baby of musical mediums. You cannot really leave the room. Honestly, I think I have adult ADD and it can take me 4 songs just to leave a room. Especially if it’s big with lots of shiny things, like my living room. By the time I selected a record, put it on, walked past my other records, and all the liner notes, and then my bookshelves…..oh and should I dust these picture frames?….maybe light a candle….this candle looks low….I should order some more….This table should have flowers on it…What is the meaning of life…I’m hungryyyy.etc, etc, etc. And the next thing you know it’s time to change the record and I haven’t even started cooking or writing or work that I was just about to get done. Then I have to pick a new record, and start all over.
As you can see, there’s a lot of personal responsibility and commitment here. Self efficacy is certainly required. You must make decisions, monitor them, and redirect if necessary. A record player does not assess your listening habits and make your selection for you, or ask you if you are still listening, or just carry you through a whole day of not paying attention to it. This is not a thing on the side, this is a main squeeze, and you must pay the attention or end up in cold silence…alone, with no Robert Palmer singing seductively (with rapist undertones) into your hungry ears.
In summation……record players…..not for the faint of heart, not for the lazy, and not for those who can’t commit. But if you are ready for something worth putting time into, and want the best and most magical musical results, then for sureeeeee, put your records on. If you’re a sucker for sweet sounds and nostalgic pop culture, get down to the Beat Shop for a wander around. You know I wouldn’t steer you wrong.
This guy on the other hand……look out.