Monday, March 06, 2006

Vinyl Records

One of my favorite performers is Todd Snider. He is witty, sarcastic, prolific and can craft a helluva hook. In 2002 he released a song called Vinyl Records which is an ode to the those old wax discs we all grew up on. The song begings with these lyrics:

"I’ve got a dusty old pile of vinyl records sittin’ on my floor
I’ve played each one of ‘em over and over a dozen times or more
All I’ve got is a beat up chair a mattress a fork and another to spare
And that dusty old pile of records on my floor"
I too have a dusty old pile of records on my floor.

My record collection began when I purchased a copy of Glass Houses by Billy Joel. From that point on I was hooked. Every two weeks I would cash my McDonald's check and make the drive out to Cheapo Records to peruse the new arrivals. When I finally made the switch to Compact Discs I had ammased over 500 LPs. Many of whom were like old friends. Sadly, my phonograph needle passed away about 8 years ago and much like Mr. Snider my records became nothing more than a dusty old pile taking up way too much floor space. In fact, the last time I listened to a record my wife and I were still childless.

Last week all of that changed. I finally broke down, made the trip out to The Needle Doctor and picked up a new Shure needle. Like starting a lawnmower for the first time in spring, my old turntable coughed and sputtered but eventually spun back to life grateful for the opportunity to once again trace those waxy grooves.

It has been fun to dig out some of those old gems I had nearly forgotten about such as The Velvet Underground, The Bodeans, Rickie Lee Jones, and of course Glass Houses. Best of all, the return of my turntable has allowed me to revist some of those old Mpls bands I grew up on. Being a child of the '80s in MN one's thoughts turn immediately to what was dubbed the Minneapolis Sound. This genre was lead by the likes of Prince, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and The Time.

However, during that same time, while the city of Minneapolis was awash in purple, a whole different side of the Minneapolis Sound was emerging out of the rubble of the Punk movement. Those pioneers, bands such as Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, The Suburbs and Soul Asylum, not only created some of the most important music of the '80s, but they paved the way for the mega-commercial success of what came to be known as the Seattle Sound. While many of these bands have re-released their earlier work on CD most reside in the "where are they now" file. It is these albums that I am looking forward to spending time with. Plus, it has been an additional treat regaling my kids with stories of the good old days when you used to have to go ALL THE WAY TO A STORE to buy music.

So welcome back Phones, nice to see you again Flaming Oh's, glad to hear you're doing well Trip Shakespeare. Let's sit for a while, we have so much to catch up on.

"One time in San Francisco
I was standin’ in an airport line
In one bag I had all my clothes and in the other was all them ol’ records of mine
The lady said I could only bring one bag
I had two, Oh what a drag
I had to jump on the plane and leave all my clothes behind"


gitsul said...

Just make sure when you connect your hi-fi to your computer to record your vinyl into digital to move your beloved Oh's to your Nano that you use the proper shielded cable. I few years ago, I decided to record some old vinyl onto my computer to allow me to listen to some vintage Clash on my mp3 player. I worked all the details out. I got all the needed and appropriate cables to connect my stereo and computer to each other. So, I thought. I was two feet too short. So, I looked around my house and found a solution. I had a headphone extension cable. Great. I got my computer connected just fine. I recorded Sandinista! onto my computer. I spent an entire weekend recording each of my favorite vinyl lps onto my computer. I was in heaven.

About two weeks later after hours of listening enjoyment on my mp3 player and computer, I was surfing the net. Nothing unusual. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then, *poof*. Yes, there was literally a POOF of smoke and a flash near the floor between my stereo and my computer desk. It turns out the quick and easy headphone extension cord I used wasn't shielded, and after being connected to low voltage electricity for two weeks the insulation couldn't take the heat. I almost started my house on fire.

Moral of the story...when there is a poof of smoke, you've used the wrong cable.

The Boy said...

For those of us with an excellent ear, vinyl is still the pref among purists. CDs eliminate ambience, which is depth, considering it "noise". This effect is most noticeable on classical records, but I've noticed it on some of my old Doobie Bros. too. If there was a cure for scratches, vinyl would be Nirvana.

Purple Rain was one of my fav movies, and I loved The Time. Whatever happened to music?