Monday, January 18, 2016

let's talk about my record player.

I have been told - more than once - that I am an old soul.

This is either a great compliment, or it's a roundabout way of telling me that I am boring... but in a sweet way.

I'm choosing to go with the former.

You may recall that I have had a powerful love for Simon and Garfunkel since I was approximately twelve. I was twelve in 1999. What 1999 twelve-year-old disregards N'Sync and Britney Spears for a folk duo from the 1960s?

THIS 1999 twelve-year-old.

I saved my allowance and bought all of Simon and Garfunkel's albums on CD. One Christmas, I asked for a record player... and got it.

That record player is what this story is all about.

If I had to guess - and for the purposes of this story, I do - I would say that I was around fifteen when I asked for a record player for Christmas. It was 2002.

It is important to note that record players are totally trendy right now. Hipsters the world over have been buying new record players to play their vinyl, and they will tell you that the sound from an LP is just not the same as a CD. And they're right.

But do you know what I'm about to say?

I was listening to records before it was cool.

But also after it was cool. 2002 was a no-man's time for vinyl, but I desperately wanted it. I wanted to listen to Simon and Garfunkel in the way that they were meant to be listened to, and that meant getting a record player.

My mom had a bunch of old records in our basement, and it was there that I discovered an original copy of Bridge Over Troubled Water. This was Simon and Garfunkel's final - and best-selling - album. It won a ton of Grammys, and the title track stayed at #1 for ages. This was even the best selling album of all time... until a little album called Thriller overturned it in 1982.

I HAD to hear this album on vinyl.

I did indeed get my record player for Christmas, and Bridge Over Troubled Water sounded absolutely glorious. I would hole myself up in my room, listening to it over and over. I began hunting for the rest of Simon and Garfunkel's albums on vinyl - haunting secondhand stores and sifting carefully through their holdings. This was not before the internet, but it was before online shopping was as easy and safe as it is today. Besides, I didn't even have a checking account, let alone a credit card. Buying online was out of the question.

But I was fine with it. The thrill of the case made finally locating the album so much sweeter. Once I had completed my Simon and Garfunkel collection, I gathered quite an amalgamation of music. From My Fair Lady to Wayne Newton, I had a strange catalog. But I loved it.

I listened to my records nearly nonstop until I went to college. My record player and record collection would take up too much space in my dorm room, so they stayed behind.

Regretfully, it took me ten years to make room for my record player again.

My living situations after college were undoubtedly temporary. I moved from Morris to Denver to New Orleans to Minneapolis to Sioux Falls, all in small rooms or apartments (or storage sheds in someone's backyard): no place for a record player. James and I bought our house in Luverne two years ago, and still, my record player wasn't there. However, it was in use: James took my record player to school with him to use in his music class.

Alas, that was to end in tragedy. James had the record player propped open with its little metal arm, and one of his students closed it without unhooking that arm. The arm broke, and the record player's lid would no longer stay open. Fixing the arm went on the backburner, but James did finally fix it a couple of months ago. Elated, I brought my old records back from my parents' house, and they sound just as beautiful and sonorous as they did when I first played them thirteen years ago.

And the best part is? Now that buying vinyl is cool, you can get nearly EVERYTHING on LP - even albums that were released long after the golden days of vinyl. I bought two Mumford and Sons albums on vinyl, and the sound you get from them is worlds above the CD.

Thanks to Amazon, finding records is as easy as freaking pie. No more do I have to make my way to record stores and dig hopefully through rows and rows of LPs. Not to say that I don't enjoy that: I do. But when there's an album that I so desire that I need it RIGHT NOW otherwise I MAY DIE, I can Amazon Prime it and have it in two days.

Another unexpected benefit of my record player? I can use records as a payment system. I have a list of records about a mile long that I want, but I really shouldn't be spending all my money on vinyl. James and I usually trade off buying household stuff - he buys hardware, I buy groceries, etc. Recently, we bought a new vacuum. I paid for the whole thing, and James bought me records to even it out. Probably not your typical marital financial arrangement, but it works for us. (In case you're curious, he bought me The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, Modest Mouse's Good News For People Who Love Bad News, and Abbey Road. AWESOME.)

I'm telling you: if you get the chance to pick up a record player, DO IT. No matter what you like to listen to, you can find it on LP. And you won't be sorry that you did.
the newest addition to my record collection. SO GOOD.
(Also, you get to be cooler than everyone else and say hipster-y things like "the album sounds SO MUCH BETTER on vinyl. And you know what? 99% of the time, it does.) 

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