It is always a joy whenever the younger gens in the family discover and appreciate the old toys of your time, such as your generation’s phonograph records collection. Last weekend, our millennial section of the clan had a great time looking through our pile of albums which I and my brothers had collected through the years.
In this age of digital technology where one’s favorite musical preferences (cleverly packed into what they term as a playlist) can now be conveniently stored in hand-held devices or even memory sticks smaller than your pinky, the older generation’s musical collection in comparison, is indeed a rarity. Call it what you will, a sad or funny turn-of-events (or both), but the young people’s reactions to all things old, such as a stack of old records, is a treasure in itself to behold. Some could not even imagine how everything works.
For what it’s worth however, these “antique” vinyl disks are tangible things, and never comparable to an mp3 file, which no one can ever hold, much less appreciate in their hands.
While today’s advancements may have indeed brought about convenience in almost anything, the old days had been to say the least, plus-two, in terms of things to do. During our time, when us musicians wanted to learn a song, we still had to go through the tedious routine of playing back a record over and over, on a player which if not handled carefully could either spell ruin for the vinyl, or the record player itself.
Then, as lyrics were likewise difficult to access, one had to also transcribe them straight from the record.
With the introduction and easy access of tape recorders in the 60s, playback made things easier, but still the process, though made much shorter, was still manually taxing. Old musicians know the ordeal. Nowadays, with YouTube and other online applications, everything is totally light-years different. A complete tab of the music is even available so that, the musicians today will never know the oldie feel.
Mentioning this little history is significant; because as all these new technologies became available, the amassed vinyl records in everyone’s collection, had become rarely utilized and listened to if at all, so that they were thus, retired and brought to pasture, so to speak. Except for the sentimental and the collector-types, most of album owners I know had eventually sold off their collection to either free storage space or earn a little money.
Taking out a record from its album cover, polishing it for dust with special soft cloth (and no other), turning on the phonograph, component, whatever, adjusting volume, all these, equals to a lot of thing to do, unless of course, one’s OCD trait is in full charge and you prefer to be ritualistic about listening to music. (I know a few, so you’re off the hook.)
In comparison, today, one could just take out one’s phone, scroll through your Spotify playlist or whatever, select your artist, and press Play. One could even just sync everything to a bluetooth speaker and it will all sound like you have equaled the quality of yesterday’s old equipment down pat, except yours is just compact and fits in your pockets..
Going back to them thingy gathering dust in a corner. Not even the most intricately-designed compact discs of today, with their lyric inserts and artwork, will compare to any double-album vinyl records of the past (unless it had a pop-up castle in there). While pressing the records may not have been expensive in the day, the labor and creativity that went with designing the total package of the album, were intentional works of art and are indeed without compare. It was therefore so satisfying that people are once again starting to collect these lost treasures.
We were at Abreeza the other day and we chanced upon a stall that purely sold old long-plays of all genres. Their prices ranged from 500 to a grand, with double albums and categorical popularity of the artist, fetching more. Especially rare albums were subject to negotiations, the guy inferred.
My first impulse had been to inform my younger family members to see the stall. Not to sell our collection, excuse me, but to impart on them that the seemingly-insignificant box gathering dust in the corner is family treasure. Theirs to keep and enjoy when we are all but memories.