The Art of Listening to Albums

As a child, I was surrounded by so many records – mostly played once, if at all. The reason being we were always in a constant state of moving. So either the complex advanced sound system was packaged up, or the ‘turn table’ needle was too worn and could threaten the physical landscape of the record surface with skipping and scratching.  It was really that these records were almost living, and needed to be treated with respect and care. Yet, YEARS passed and we never left this state of concern for these albums, nor purchased a new needle. Consequently, the most I was able to get out of this collection was reviewing the liner notes – the notes written all over album cover or actual jacket.

I should have recognized early on, thorough this experience as a child, I was in for many circumstances of withholding from enjoyment. Not to say we didn’t laugh a lot. We did. We ate strictly high end gourmet food. Prepared foods. My Mother is an excellent cook – putting her heart into it as she did everything.  But there was always a need to go through a cycle of misery and waiting before enjoying certain things. In retrospect, this was a microcosmic version of my future dilemmas  – you have the resources, but you cannot use any of them too early. It is this exact situation that I used as one of my Unconscious Pillars of Doubt to prevent myself from concentrating on things and allowing myself to ‘jump in’ with both feet.
I have to give my mother credit because sometimes the neurosis faded for split moments and her enjoyment of music surpassed the house edict; she began using a ‘cheap’ record player for those albums she just had hear. This special library include crooners, various classical music era concerts, funk, 60’s and 70’s pop, Motown and musicals.

Today I read a post called “My iPod is Making Me Crazy” on the blog QUIRKYCULTURE which perfectly describes the lost ritual of listening to music on vinyl albums before the iPod was invented.  It is brings back the flavor of exactly my experience as a boy:

I miss the days of caressing that black disc between my palms, touching only the edges. Gently setting the needle upon the outer rim’s blank sliver , listening to the sandpaper scratch that preceded the first track. And then going along for the ride, listening as I studied the cover art and liner notes.

I put in bold the actual phrase that is so perfectly worded -it puts an image in my mind’s eye riding a bicycle on rolling hills, and then switching from those hills to a macro lens camera with 100’s of frames per second – showing slow motion of riding the actual physical record… and seeing almost a microscopic rooster tail of vinyl debris kicked behind it, carving the track while pushing out amazing music through the speakers…


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