Friday, June 30, 2006

Pack Rats of the world UNITE!
There comes a time when you just gotta get RID of stuff...

You've heard of the little kid who sees a stray puppy and it follows him home, and invariably he'll look at his parents with big doe-eyes and say, "Can I keep it? Huh? Huh? PUH-LEEZE..."; well, I'm that way with VINYL. As in RECORDS. I give wayward records a good home. And, beginning in the early-90s, I was finding some great vinyl at the local junk shops. Well, people were getting rid of their records and converting over to CD's. I was probably the last person on planet Earth to get a CD player, and now I have 5 or 6 of them around here somewhere. Most of the CD's I buy are by old artists whose music I've been looking for, for years, and the record company finally released their old stuff. I also get new CD's by artists I've always followed, like Neil Young or U2.

But mostly, I buy 2nd-hand vinyl (and second-hand CD's if they're in good shape). My Mom and I used to go to the Coeur d'Alene St. Vincent De Paul when I was a little kid. So, basically, I have shopped at that store for over 40 YEARS. Mom just loved to shop for knick-knacks, antiques and sewing patterns. Me, even then, I'd go back and look at the records. I love the second-hand shops. It's too much trouble to go to all the yard sales, and it's exhausting, too. I tried that one weekend morning, and after my 3rd or 4th yard sale, I was ready to PUNT. TIME OUT! So the 2nd-hand shops are like a big "controlled" yard sale. And it seems all the new people moving into this area brought with them a wide range music on vinyl which they later donated which means, I've found a wide range of music at the second-hand stores; European progressive rock, Hard-rockin' American bands, and even some JAZZ. Many is the time I've gone home with a couple of armloads of albums and singles; after all, they were 50 cents or a dollar a pop, such a good deal! And I crave listening to music. I really do.

As far as '45's, I buy old records that look like they came out in the '50s. I grew up on '60s music and backtracked into the '50s; I'm STILL finding records that KVNI, our hometown automated-from-somewhere-distant radio station plays. "Doo-woppin' Oldies" is KVNI's claim to fame, I guess. It doesn't matter if I've heard these old '45s or not; I was probably 2 or 3 when a lot of them came out. But I take 'em home, play 'em, then I look in my Billboard Chart Book to see how popular the record was. That's the magic of old vinyl. You put it on the turntable and it springs to life, sending the listener to the now-distant past in the form of an audio time capsule. I bought TONS of records over the years; I've bought all the cheap vinyl I could get my hands on. And it's fun; it's intriguing, and it is just about the only thing I'm interested anymore.

But, being a vinyl pack rat, I'm finding my records are beginning to OVERTAKE me AGAIN. Imagine putting a little tiny baby dragon in the corner of your room. Then you close the door and open it again in ten years, and this cute little mini-dragon has turned into a rabid, oversized, slobbering, fire-breathing beast, and that's what my record collection's become. I thinned out the albums drastically a couple of years ago; I gave away 14 BOXES of albums. I saved the "good stuff", though. By the way, those 14 boxes of albums were HALF of my total collection. I still have enough record albums to fill up the average pickup truck box. I just can't bear to get rid of treasured albums I've had since high school, sorry.

I have a 'core' collection of 45's that I've carefully alphabetized and filed away, and I've added to that gradually over the years. But the last 10 or 12 years or so, I've been buying so many 45's so fast, that they overtook me, and I never did file them away properly. I just stashed 'em in boxes, thinking, "I'll get a 'round tuit' someday. Hah! And, as you all know, it is IMPOSSIBLE to collect everything. So, I'm thinning out the 45's. I'm keeping the more well-known, historical 45's, but you've gotta figure that for every 45 that made the charts, there were 10 or 50 or maybe 100 that languished in obscurity, even though many times, that obscure music was just as good, if not better, than what made the charts. Only, this time around, I'm getting rid of my junk 45's, but still keeping the songs, and I'll tell ya how I'm doin' that:

A while back on the Internet, I saw an ad for a CD recorder that makes CD's from RECORDS! So I bought one. I am so techno-shy, that when it arrived, it sat on my couch for over a week because I was afraid to touch it. I'd had the unit for a week and I didn't even know what it looked like 'cos it was still in the BOX. So finally, I unpacked it, read the owners' manual, and it's so simple to operate that someone with the attention span of a frothing-at-the-mouth wingnut can do it. And if I can do it, ANYONE can. I'm burning my junk 45's onto CD's; I can get 30 short songs on a CD. So, I take the side of the 45 that sounds best to me, and I record it, and then toss the 45 into the donation box. It takes patience; when you're dubbing 45's, you've gotta sit there and change the records. I would imagine in the last month I've dubbed at least 500 songs onto CD. And CD's, as you know, take up hardly ANY space.

This is the Teac GF-350, a handy-dandy little unit that comes with a remote. If you record from a clean sound source such as from a tape or a really clean LP, you can set the controls so it inserts track numbers automatically; for noiser sound sources (such as 45's that've been scraped on a brick wall or scratchy LP's), you can switch the unit to "manual" mode; you hit a "pause" control in-between songs, which automatically "ups" the track number by one. This little gizmo cost me just under $300. I remember several years ago, people were telling me "stand-alone burners" (of which this is a variety) cost about $800-$900, so the price of technology is coming down. I'm sure increased fuel prices will drive it back up, however. Of course, all the recordable CD's you can by are made in Taiwan, as are portions of this unit, but oh well. I highly recommend this little unit to anyone who is thinking about converting their vinyl to CD. It's pretty cool. It's absorbing, it gives me something to do (it gets in the way of my blogging, actually), and it keeps me off the streets. And out of the alleys.

Is the above relatively mundane subject matter interesting enough to include in my blog? I'm having a hard time applying myself these days. But when I get a subject I actually know something about, watch out. And vinyl, well, it's the one subject I know something about.


Anonymous Philip Howard said...

Hi this may sound silly but I'm organising a big celebration event for my town and we want 50 or so junk 45 vinyls for table decorations- have you got any you'd be willing for us to have?


2:05 PM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

Hi Philip...I didn't even see your comment until a year and a half later, so I guess I'm too late for your event...oh well...

3:25 AM  

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