Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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Going for the record

One of the things that December puts into my mind is records; LPs, that is – those 12-inch black vinyl discs that used to fill our living rooms long ago. It took me a moment to figure out why December should put such images into my head. First of all, one of my indelible adolescent memories was one year when I was out with my mother helping tote packages while she was Christmas shopping. As we passed near a record store in the mall, she said, “Why don’t you pick out a Beatles album for everybody?” At the time, the only Beatle albums in the house belonged to my older brother, and those were quite off-limits, so this was a wondrous opportunity. The Fab Four had split up a few years earlier and all their albums were still in press, so there was a lot to choose from. The album I ultimately presented to Mom for her to buy was – well, I guess there’s some debate as to the correct title of this album. The actual Apple label on the disc read “The Beatles Again” though I think it is more commonly referred to as the Beatles Hey Jude album. I’m hoping my brother Frank will read this and offer more definitive commentary on that point.

The other thing I want to mention about all this is the sensual dimension of playing an LP. This is something that people raised on CDs would probably know nothing of, and which people raised on LPs have probably forgotten. There was a special connection with the music that came of looking at that disc and seeing the grooves on the record that actually physically represented the sounds you were about to hear, and there was an added sensory dimension of seeing, hearing, and feeling that needle grinding away on the surface of the record, grinding out your chosen music. Even the hisses and pops audible during quiet passages and between songs were part of the complete sensory experience.

Now lest you should think I’m all too stuck in the old technology of the past, let me state this clearly: I love my CDs. I love the fabulous sound quality and ease of operation. I have no desire to go back to my turntable and LPs. But I wanted to offer you this window on the past in the hope that it might resonate in some way for you. And by the way, while you’re out Christmas shopping, gift certificates to music stores are always a fine gift in my world! Come to think of it, I no longer own the Beatles Hey Jude album . . .


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