YESTERDAY'S RECORDS GIVE A HISTORY LESSON TO YOUNG SON
Depending on who you are, the most obsolete technology may also be the shiniest.
Several years ago, I developed a fascination with old-timey music. I scoured the MP3 blogs, downloaded like crazy, and finally picked up a few real 78s of my own at a tag sale. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a record player that could handle that speed. In fact, I didn’t have a record player at all. When I left the Midwest 20 years ago for California, my turntable didn’t make the trip.
Fortunately, Web forums showed me the way to Crosley Radio, maker of classic record players with built-in speakers that were on the shelf of every junior high A/V room in the 1970s. I instantly bought one...and used it twice. Much to my disappointment, the convenience of the iPod had quickly trumped the visceral experience of putting the needle on the record. So I put the record player on a shelf in my garage, never to be spoken of (or listened to) again.
Until…five years later, my fpir-year-old son heard his Brooklyn hipster aunt talk about scoring a mint copy of The Runaways LP at a thrift store and asked me, "Dad, what’s a record?"
With my record player buried deep in the bowels of my basement, I went to the Web where, oddly, I discovered a genre of YouTube videos showing records spinning on turntables (I kid you not.) Apparently, these turntable music videos are just an easy way for people to store song recordings on YouTube. We watched a few Elvis Presley records play but, well, that didn’t really satisfy his curiosity (and made me feel pretty lame).
So the next day, I pulled my record player out of the basement and dusted it off. Then I picked my son up after school and took him to the best used record store in the city. Of course, I could have dug my record crate out of storage, but I didn’t think he was quite ready for Bauhaus or Throbbing Gristle yet (or more likely, I was just too lazy). Truthfully though, I wanted him to have the full LP experience, which involves flipping through the bins at a dusty record store.
In any case, we had a terrific time looking for dollar discs that he picked solely on their cover art, which he inspected carefully before making any decision. How could I never have noticed that the UFOs on the front of Boston’s debut are actually inverted electric guitars!?
Since that first formative musical experience, we take a trip every few months to the record store to seek out a new old platter for our collection. And at least once a week, he asks me to set up the record player in his room. And through all of side one of Yellow Submarine, he’ll sit quietly, happily gazing at the big album cover art and rocking out. Just like me.