Simple pleasures – Going back to vinyl

Early in my life, I became a music buff. Sometime in High School (probably by my sophomore year), I pieced together a simple hifi system, saved my paper route money, bought a decent turntable and the best needle I could afford, and started buying records.

A vinyl LP recordLots and lots of records. I could be found at Tower Records in Campbell California at least once a week. When I started driving (at 16) we would trek over the hill to the record stores in Santa Cruz (can’t for the life of me remember the names) to buy exotic, rare, used, and even ahem, bootleg albums.

Then in 1982, Sony and Phillips rocked the world with the introduction to the audio compact disc. Clean, clear, digital perfection. A format that didn’t wear out. I bought an early player, and started accumulating CD’s instead of LP’s.

Somewhere along the line, I sold or gave away all my vinyl. The turntable failed to make one of my (many) moves, and I was all digital.

Fast forward to today

My father in-law passed away a couple weeks ago, and we’re all gathered for his memorial, and to sort through the lifetime of memories and ‘stuff’. Sitting on an entertainment center (that doesn’t have a TV) is a simple component stereo. Amplifier, receiver, CD changer, and a turntable all setup.

My father inlaw’s tastes ran to a lot of big band from the 30’s and 40’s, some jazz, and classical. But lots and lots of vinyl instead of the ubiquitous CD.

Firing up the turntable, dropping on some Glen Miller or Miles Davis (including an album where John McLaughlin) was the axe slinger). Some great background, and nostalgia is in the air.

I won’t lie, I can’t hear the sound being any “warmer” than a well encoded/digitized CD, something that vinyl freaks swear by. But there is something tangible about removing the album from the sleeve, cleaning the accumulated dust off, getting the speed right on the turntable (it has a stroboscopic speed gauge), and dropping a needle.

Having to get up and walk across the room to flip the album, something that I had forgotten about, is a nice way to break things up. And then the ritual of replacing the album, and selecting another disc of black plastic to repeat the ritual.

I have become so cocooned by the digital world. Playlists on my iphone that run for days, streaming via Spotify or iRadio, really good sound that never degrades from over playing, that a trip to the past is a bit of delight. Delight I thought I would never succumb to.

No, I am not likely to give up my digital library. I have enough music to fill a room with albums. I am not going to hunt down vinyl for all my purchases (but I will probably buy some). But having an old school system will allow me to indulge in my origins.

I am just bummed that all those boxes of LP’s are long gone. Sigh.

I have hinted to my wife that I wouldn’t mind if she claimed the LP collection and the gear to play it.