A few weeks ago my husband came up from the basement with an old Aiwa stereo of mine, asking if he could put it out with the garbage. When I saw the turntable sitting on top, I told him absolutely not. After all, I pointed out, it was the only way to play those dusty records that had been sitting in our house for eleven years.
I hate clutter. Every time I walked by my front room and spotted the big, black eyesore with its wires scattered on the wood floor, I thought about bringing the thing to the curb. Until yesterday, when my daughter was at gymnastics and my sons were doing their homework. I walked up to the stereo, attached the speaker wires, and plugged it in. I took a Barry Manilow record off the shelf, slipped the shiny black vinyl out of its thin paper case, and placed in on the turntable.
As I lifted the hand up and slowly positioned the tiny needle on the dark edge of the record, I felt years of technology lifting like smoke away from my body. When the needle touched down, the crackle of static began and I almost cried from the sound.
I write the songs that make the whole world sing
I write the songs of love and special things
I write the songs that make the young girls cry
I write the songs, I write the songs
Whether it was from my voice belting out the words, or from the unfamiliar sound of vinyl music, my boys came into the room. I excitedly gave them a lesson in phonographs, showing them how careful you had to be with the arm and needle. When the record began to skip I exclaimed, "That's called skipping! That sometimes happens when you listen to records!"
"This sounds terrible," my fifteen-year-old said.
"But look how great the whole experience of listening to music used to be," I answered. He walked out of the room shaking his head.
After a frantic search through my house I found my old record player and colorful record case, where I kept all of my favorite 45s.
As a child I spent many hours sitting on the floor with my favorite "toy."
my treasured record case
It was like finding gold. The small records huddled together inside my beautiful pink psychadelic box, just the way I had left them. Some were my mother's from when she was a child. I took them all out and put them on the floor, basking in the colors and sticker styles.
a sea of vinyl
the paper cases that always ripped
I couldn't get my green record player to work, and my favorite song, which I still play today on my ipod if I need to cry, was somehow missing (Don't Cry Joni by Conway Twitty) but I sat on the floor for hours, playing each one on the Aiwa turntable and relishing the individual memories that flooded my brain.
Cats In The Cradle in motion
Hot Child in the City
At the Hop
Feels So Good
Ring My Bell
Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor
I finally had to tear myself away from the past and take the lasagna out (I burnt it). I made a promise to myself, though, that every now and then I would carve a few minutes out of my hectic life to listen to my beloved vinyls. There's just something about background static that makes everything better.