Oh yeah. Vinyl. Good ol' grooves.
What you are seeing on that turntable is... JOHNNY CASH AT SAN QUENTIN.
On the back of the album sleeve is my Auntie's maiden name, and the date: January 1970.
That makes this record older than me by about 11 months. I wasn't even an idea yet.
It's been years since we've had this record player working. On the weekend, Jethro and Bucky finally tracked down a store, luckily not too far from home, that sells this obscure item known as a stylus. They had to buy the entire cartridge, the whole black thing at the end of the arm. Jethro didn't mind, even though it was kind of pricey (we'd already turned down an opportunity to go see RDJ at the movies because we didn't think we could shell out over $60...) because it's a good piece of gear. Might even be worth more than the whole record player. haha.
We've got this nice record collection, made up of a combination of the following:
My record buying years:
-Tears For Fears
Jethro's record buying years:
-Yngwie Malmsteen (I'm not even kidding)
My parent's record buying years:
-Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
-Baja Marimba Band (that is a seriously great record)
-a few obscure gospel bands/ cousins and other relatives who sang hymns and got some vinyl pressed
My sister's record buying years:
My mom's sister's record buying years:
What an amazing collection!
We've got a Bill Cosby comedy album next to Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual.
Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet and Simon & Garfunkel, The Sounds Of Silence.
(I am going to name a critter Garfunkel some day.)
Van Halen, 1984 beside XTC, English Settlement (another great record, obscure in my neck of the woods)
Forgotten Rebels and The Cure.
INXS, Listen Like Thieves and ABBA...pick one, I had a serious ABBA phase between ages 9 and 11!
We've got a Molly Hatchett record.
We've got the Iron Butterfly sleeve but Jethro turned Innagaddadavida into a frisbee about 30 years ago.
We've got two copies of Zenyatta Mondatta by the Police.
People, we've got a Sigue Sigue Sputnik record. I'm not kidding.
ISN'T THIS FUN!???!
It's been so long since we could play records. We've been in this house for over two years and only recently got our stereo system set up. This is a temporary home... we weren't even planning on being here this long. But we missed our music. Now we can watch TV, watch a movie on DVD, I don't think we can play our Wallace & Gromit VHS ("everybody knows the moon's made of cheese...") and I don't think we can play cassettes (yes we still have those too, how do you think we listen to all the Van Halen?) but I do think we can play CDs... there are four remotes and I'm still not sure how to turn the TV on --seriously, four remotes and I'm still getting off my butt to hit the channel button? We've got an iPod dock hooked up so we can drop an iGadget in there and listen to a playlist.
And now, WE CAN PLAY RECORDS!
Last night Bucky discovered Blizzard Of Ozz.
We'd given him the disc last year and were shocked to hear how different it sounded. Apparently somebody thought it would be a good idea to re-record the bass and drums. We thought it was a terrible idea and decided to ostracize that CD, promising Bucky we'd get the ol' record player fired up.
So I gave Bucky the tutorial on Dropping The Needle.
There's the hissing and crackling, and there's Randy Rhoads, and we grinned. The record skipped. I giggled. "It's the real thing, kids! There's nothing else like it!"
Jethro later said, "I played the crap outta that record. I bought it used, and then I played the crap out of it."
Well kids, it's not perfect. The turntable has a nasty ground hum that can be heard between tracks. There will be noises coming out of those vinyl grooves that aren't music.
But the music is there.
It isn't compressed, it isn't crushed down into MP3 files. It doesn't have any of that ProTooled sandpaper-on-the-ears bullcrap. It wasn't mastered so loud it hurts. Music shouldn't hurt. You should be able to turn it up and enjoy it without suffering hearing damage. Jethro has been devoting his career to making good-sounding music and making a stand against music that just sounds like a wall of fuzz. A lot of teenagers have grown up on recordings that have been processed to death. And they listen to slammed files with no dynamics and way too much noise. They listen to it loud, in earbuds. They don't really know how recorded music is meant to sound. Half the time they've only got one earbud in, which makes Jethro tear his hair out, because he spends 16 hours a day mixing in stereo -- as in, each side has something different going on -- and these guys are only listening to one side. They're missing half of it.
Let's face it: the entire music industry is a broken rusted shadow of its former self. We know this first hand. We live it.
And Bucky and Annyong go to school, stand on their little soapboxes and proclaim all of this to their misguided peers.... and are met with uncomprehending stares.
Ours aren't allowed to have a million small files of music on their iPods. They are allowed to have like, a couple hundred, that are in big files and sound good.
So we listened to Ozzy last night. Wine is fine, but liquor is quicker. Tonight we'll listen to the story of Mr Crowley. Tomorrow night we'll listen to side 2 of Johnny Cash cussing his way through a set of songs to the appreciative howls of a bunch of prisoners.
It is far from perfect, vinyl, but I don't think we've reached a perfect method of recording music yet in the first hundred years of the art and science. Records are better than wax cylinders. Besides, wax cylinder players are even harder to find than record player needles.
I keep a close watch on this heart of mine... I keep my eyes wide open all the time...