Spinning my way through my musical memories

FATHER’S DAZE
Emmitt B. Feldner  for The Review

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our columnist has nothing this week – we’d say that’s true every week, but he would disagree – so we’re running this previous column here instead.

I’m listening to a whole new music library these days.

To tell the truth, it’s really an old music library.

I’m finally getting around to converting all of my old phonograph albums into digital music files on my computer and, melodically at least, it’s been a real trip into the past.

I know it shows my age, but my musical collection began on vinyl, 12-inch disks that played at 33 1/3 rpm.

And no, despite what my children might tell you, the first recording in my collection was not a tinfoil cylinder of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” that came directly from Edison’s laboratory – I’m old, but I’m not that old.

I began collecting records back in high school – and again, despite what my children might say, my first records were not 78 rpm shellac disks.

Those do predate me, at least a little bit – although we still had some of my parents’ old 78s around the house when I was growing up, but those were antiques by the time I started buying records.

My collection really took off in college and, by the time I got married, I had several hundred albums to my name – not much else, sad to say.

I did supplement my vinyl collection with some cassette tapes over the years, although I skipped right over 8-track tapes.

I guess I never really could get used to the way they annoyingly skipped from one track to the next right in the middle of a song, plus I never had anything to play them on and never wanted to invest in the equipment. Stereo equipment to play records and cassettes on was expensive enough for me.

Needless to say, my collection of record albums took up more than a little bit of space.

That was all right as long as I had my own space to myself, but getting married and then having children meant my stuff had to start sharing space with increasingly larger amounts of other people’s stuff.

On top of which, the collection had to be moved, along with all the rest of the stuff we had all collected over the years.

It went from my music being heavy, as in “That’s some heavy music, man!” to being heavy, as in “Those boxes are so heavy, they’re giving me a hernia!”

After a while, about the time that phonographs and vinyl albums gave way to compact discs and compact disc players, my boxes full of old albums got relegated to a corner of the attic – and there have probably been more than a few times over the years when I’ve been close to being relegated to the same space.

I began working on replacing my old albums with CDs, when and where they were available on CD, along with adding CDs of some things I hadn’t bought on vinyl back then and some new music made since then that I enjoyed.

Pretty soon, I had several hundred CDs in my collection, which take up less space and weigh less than a comparable number of record albums, so they haven’t been relegated to the attic – yet.

But there were still plenty of things that I had on vinyl that either aren’t available on CD or are too rare and costly for me to be able to afford on a disc more than half as small as the original.

But a little while ago I bought a new turntable and the necessary software to turn those old record albums into digital files on my laptop – which can also be burned onto CDs.

It was the first time I had bought a turntable in decades, which was another trip into the past. If I were buying the same clothes I bought the last time I bought a turntable, I’d probably be looking for bellbottom trousers and paisley tiedyed shirts.

Actually, we did still have a record player in the house, but it had stopped working some time ago and even if it did work, there’s no place on it to plug in a USB cable to connect to my laptop.

With everything set to digitize my albums, I just had to retrieve them from that dark corner of the attic.

I had the feeling I might have to call on Indiana Jones to help me find and retrieve the boxes, but it wasn’t too arduous an archaeological expedition and I managed to drag them out and dust them off.

I’ve worked my way through about 40 or so albums thus far, everything from early Joan Baez to the original cast recording of “Hair,” and a lot in between.

The system has done a good job of converting the records to digital music files – complete with scratches, pops, ticks, skips and hisses.

I found that out early when I put on one album and went away for half an hour, then came back to find it was still in the middle of the first track on the album – playing the same chord over and over and over and …

Then again, that’s the kind of stuff that made that magic back then. You don’t hear too many musicians re-creating that these days on their CDs or iTunes music files.


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