Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Listening to OLD RECORDS...
It's nice to know that some things never change...

I feel in a way that I am being besieged by Summer. It lands with a huge "WHUMP" and then the temperatures instantly zoom up, all kinds of events happen at the speed of light, and all kinds of strange people appear out of nowhere; I feel like I'm out of step. And, what with temperatures over 100 degrees in the forecast for this weekend, it just ain't gonna be much fun. Maybe I'm weird; I hope this happens to other people too...I find that HEAT really stresses me out. Over the last week or so, I feel like I've been shutting down. Not wanting to talk to anyone, or play guitar in front of people, and just DEPRESSED, like my stomach is in absolute KNOTS. And it ain't even HOT yet! There ain't a lot I can do but ride it out until I feel better. What a life.

I was feeling kinda miserable about all sorts of things today. The shade and breezes of the City Park didn't even do the trick. I tried taking out the guitar and playing it, and I had to force myself to make a few halfhearted passes at the strings. Honestly, I feel like I'm in some sort of summertime hibernation mode. I don't wanna do anything, don't wanna see anybody, don't wanna go anywhere. But the heat will chase me out of my house over the weekend. That's when summertime survival mode kicks in. And that's when things get REALLY stressful. What I usually end up doing, is staying in my house until the heat gets to be too much, and then I go somewhere that has air conditioning. Taco John's up on 4th always has the air-conditioner running. But ain't it kinda silly to go to a taco place, where they put HOT sauce on the food, when yer tryin' to stay cool? So, Denny's or anywhere else might be an alternative. Or, maybe a nice cool grocery store, especially in the dairy or frozen foods sections! I DESPISE the summer overheating almost as much as the bitter pipe-freezing cold of winter.

So anyway, when I got home today, I was in a real confused funk. I decided to try some music therapy. I needed to immerse myself in some sort of comfort zone, so I needed OLD music that came out in a simpler, more carefree time before I knew what depression was. Maybe I've felt it all along and I just didn't know it then. I don't know. For some reason, I wanted to hear the Beatles' "Abbey Road" album, and although I have 5 copies of the album, I had to play my original copy, that I bought for $1.00 from a friend when I was in high school, some 34 years ago. And, yep, it sounded real good (as good as a fairly-worn but playable 34-year old album can sound). But the re-visit to Beatles audio didn't end there...

I had to hear "Sgt. Pepper". I have 7 or 8 copies of that, but I had to play my original copy, that I got for my birthday in 1968. Yep, I've hung onto it all these years, and although it's been played on all kinds of crappy low-budget turntables over the years, other than some audible wear between the songs, it sounds pretty doggone good for its age. I don't dare get rid of it; my parents gave me that album way back when. There's a connection. I remember playing the album in the mornings before I went off to school when I was a kid. As the years have passed, I've collected various label variations of the album, and I even have two mono copies; mono got phased out in the late '60s, so mono copies of any late-60's album are fairly rare.



This is the label of a MONO "Sgt. Pepper" album. You can tell from the "MAS" prefix of the catalog number at the right side of the label. The Stereo versions have the word "STEREO" printed at left, where the blank space is on this label, and the "MAS" prefix is changed to "SMAS". So now you know. The copy I played tonite that I got for my birthday so long ago is stereo, but my mono copies look like the one pictured above.

The next little item I have here is a #1 single from 1968; namely, "Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)" by John Fred and his Playboy Band. He passed away last year. He and the band came from the New Orleans area. Now, note how this all ties in together...when Mr. Fred put that song together, he, being a Beatles fan, thought the Beatles were singing "Lucy In Disguise" rather than "Lucy In The Sky" (a song on the Sgt. Pepper album). I bought a new copy of the "Judy In Disguise" single in 1968, but it was pressed on cheap styrene plastic, and it literally wore out after a couple years of being played on cheap phonographs. I later found a replacement copy, which was pressed on more durable vinyl plastic, but the label looked different! Instead of a pink-beige label, as was on my original copy of "Judy In Disguise", my vinyl replacement disc had a totally white label. Me being a fan of colors, I was disappointed, although the white-label-vinyl record sounded great and still does.



So anyway, earlier this year, I was in St. Vinnies', buying whatever was striking my fancy, and I ran across another "Judy In Disguise" 45 (pictured above) and even though it is fairly worn, the label looks exactly like the one on my original copy that I'd bought new in 1968. When I saw it, I instantly remembered buying my first copy in Buttrey's Store (where "Hastings" is now) in 1968. Talk about time travel! So I keep this record more as an artifact of my past; I don't play it; I play the white-label vinyl copy. Other people have knick-knacks or souvenirs or photos or whatever. Me, I have records. Music was always around when I felt depressed back then. And so it was today as well.

Every now and then, when the records begin rivaling me for space here in my little house, I have to thin out the collection, and I'm in the process of doing that now; dubbing the stuff I don't really want onto CD. But albums and 45s do have a charm all their own. Kids today (heck, people who were kids 20 years ago) will never own a piece of black plastic with music on it (unless their Ipods are black), and I've always thot music on vinyl just seemed more personal, more intimate somehow. Sometimes I think that in the mid-60s, when I got my first phonograph, I had evolved as far as I was ever gonna evolve...at age 12! Because now, like then, I was totally enraptured watching the colorful labels go 'round as music miraculously eminated from the speakers. And I was doing that again tonite. And it's still fascinating.
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In closing, I guess I'd advise you to cherish those things which take you back to better times, whatever those things are. It's true that it's not good to live in the past, but sometimes remembering can be a good thing. I think the things we assemble and collect define who we are. Well, I'd better sign off and get to bed while it's still cool out there...

3 Comments:

Blogger animadvert said...

Dave, I understand your not interested in better stereo reproduction gear but your not doing your vinyl any favors. Needles do wear down records and cheap ones do it faster. Your collection is being prematurely eroded away. Just for the sake of the vintage vinyl you should consider getting a better turntable/tonearm/needle. There's E-bay, craigslist and audiogon where this used gear can be found. Audiogon has an extensive offering of stereo gear for sale at auction, demos by dealers and resale stuff by users. Check it out.

7:37 AM  
Blogger animadvert said...

Dave, I understand your not interested in better stereo reproduction gear but your not doing your vinyl any favors. Needles do wear down records and cheap ones do it faster. Your collection is being prematurely eroded away. Just for the sake of the vintage vinyl you should consider getting a better turntable/tonearm/needle. There's E-bay, craigslist and audiogon where this used gear can be found. Audiogon has an extensive offering of stereo gear for sale at auction, demos by dealers and resale stuff by users. Check it out.

7:38 AM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Anima, I was referring to all of the cheap phonographs I had when I was younger. I've used nothing but magnetic cartridges with Shure needles for years. My first little record player was a portable unit made by JC Penney! I then had one of those "close and fold-up G.E. phonographs. After that, I had a unit made by Wards that also had a ceramic cartridge. It sounded great, though.

I never even KNEW about magnetic cartridges, tracking weight, etc. until I was almost 30! From then on, my LP's have been played on good equipment. I am sure a lot of kids who wore out records have the same tales to tell. I love vinyl because scratches and wear (as long as they're not too bad) just kinda go with the territory. Besides, I don't play any one album enough times to cause it still more wear.

You've gotta figure that phono's back in the '60s and early '70s just weren't all that great. Some companies even went so far as to outfit a record player with STEEL tone arms that weighed a ton! (I never used one of those)

1:01 PM  

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