Somebody’s been raiding my record collection
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If you’re old enough to get mail from AARP, you remember vinyl records.
In our teenage years, we treasured those 12-inch, black discs above anything short of a ’65 Mustang. We’d race home after school, stretch out in someone’s slovenly bedroom and groove to the newest music from The Rolling Stones, The Doors and The Beatles.
While we listened, we admired clever artwork on the record albums’ square, cardboard covers and studied the lyrics and photos inside.
Records gave way to cassette tapes and then compact discs, both with teensy illustrations. If they provided any information about the music, it came in print too small for our aging eyes to make out.
Finally, music became mere digital downloads with no packaging at all.
My record albums sat neglected in a crate upstairs, or so I thought.
I was talking tunes with my sons one day when someone mentioned a Miles Davis record from the Sixties.
“I have that album,” I said, glad to be sounding hip for a change.
“You used to have that album,” my youngest son, Dan, informed me with a mischievous grin.
That led to a shocking discovery that my record collection had been shrinking. Most of the really good ones had gone bye-bye.
Parents all over America might want to check their attics. Today’s generation is raiding mom’s and dad’s closets for LPs from the golden era of rock ’n’ roll.
Record albums are cool again.
Teens and young adults are discovering they like big album covers, fascinating liner notes, booklets and lyric sheets.
More to the point, they think vinyl records sound warmer and richer than digital music. And they like sitting around a turntable with friends better than listening to digital players solo through earbuds.
Big-name artists are making vinyl records, sales of new and used albums are rising and even Amazon.com has started a vinyl section on its Web site.
Which brings us to Super Bowl Sunday, when Dan walked into our house with an armful of two dozen used discs he bought at a hotel lobby show in South Bend — some for as little as three for $1.
Offering an olive branch, he handed me copies of Crosby, Stills and Nash and Steely Dan’s “The Royal Scam,” replacing albums that had found their way to his apartment. They’re in better shape than the ones he “borrowed,” he assured me.
I gratefully slipped the new records into my storage case and began taking stock. A week earlier, he’d started making peace by returning my Stevie Wonder album. But I still hadn’t accounted for Fleetwood Mac, I complained.
Dan disappeared upstairs and returned moments later with a ’70s artifact bearing the image of Stevie Nicks in her 20s. The cover had held up better than Miss Nicks herself, due to better care.
Great, I said, but now I can’t seem to find my copy of Beethoven. Who would have taken my longhair stuff?
Up the stairs again. Back down with Ludwig von.
“I’ve got them squirreled all over,” he said, sheepishly.
Reaching into his sack, he produced Sunday’s prize purchase, a copy of “Are You Experienced?” — the world’s introduction to Jimi Hendrix. He’d paid a whopping 10 bucks.
Disappointment ensued as my turntable found flaws he hadn’t noticed. I remembered the reason we thought tapes and CDs represented progress. Vinyl damages easily. You can’t take it in the car or on a walk. You have to care for it fastidiously.
Then again, I can’t remember when I’d sat around with my kid listening to music for four hours. Or the last time he’d cared about tales from my teenage years.
Of course, he was stuck hanging out with me if he wanted to hear his new platters, because he hasn’t unpacked his turntable from his latest move.
On our TV, an upstart team from New York was upsetting the favorites in the Super Bowl. On my stereo, Hendrix was bending sound into new shapes. For one evening, it was 1969 all over again. Never mind that I still don’t have my Miles Davis back.
DAVE KURTZ is the editor of The Evening Star. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.