Today is “Record Store Day,” commemorating all the independent record stores out there, and folks who are, presumably, still selling records. Those honest-to-god vinyl spherical objects with lots of tiny ridges. It’s got me thinking about records: the first record I heard, the ones I played all the time and what is in my digital collection now that would sound amazing on vinyl.
I think that the first vinyl I ever heard was Mr. Sandman by the Chordettes. My mom had this collection of 45’s that I’d give anything for now. Beach boys, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis. God, what happen to those 45’s? I think she had a little 45 player, too. It opened at the top like a jewelry box and was maroon on the inside.
When I was older, we’d listen to records on the “nice” stereo. I think my dad brought it into the marriage. My parents record collection was varied to be sure. As a kid, I mostly liked the showtunes, like Oklahoma! and Carousel and Guys and Dolls. I would leaf through those big square record jackets and look at the ones that looked interesting. In between the Streisand and Johnny Mathis, I pulled the Mamas and the Pappas, all nestled so cutely in their little bathtub on the cover. And Janis Joplin, this funky looking brunette lounging on a couch holding a SoCo on ice, who I discovered had soul like I’d never heard before. When the record player got moved from the family room to the upstairs, I’d sit up there in the old mustard-color lounge chair and listen to Janis, and Simon and Garfunkel, and the Hair Soundtrack, and feel entirely hippie and cool.
But it was more than feeling cool, I like to think that good music transcends generations. I must have know somewhere in me that what I was hearing was GOOD music.
The first vinyl I ever bought with my own money was Pink Floyd’s Darkside of the Moon. Looking back, I love how vinyls lent themselves to listening to a whole album. And that is a great album. It was work to switch from song to song. You couldn’t just skip to the big hits, when you had a vinyl you had an album, crafted by the artist as such. I surely age myself by lamenting what we’ve lost with music’s digital age, but there’s just something warm about a record.
Thinking about my current collection of digitized music, albums numbering in the hundreds, there are some that I’d love to hear on vinyl. Probably anything Radiohead would take on a ethereal stripped of digital fanciness. Artists like Iron & Wine or Nick Drake seem almost made for the analog simplicity of vinyl. I’d like to hear that. And of course anything Beastie Boys, mostly just because they’d want to be heard on vinyl.
What was the first record you remember hearing? Buying?
What’s in your collection that would sound better on vinyl?