Wherein Fusion 45 Contemplates The True Meaning of Vinyl Record Day
Within the singularly obsessive community of music bloggers who dabble in vinyl – that is, old folks, mostly old guys, who think a musty box of records at a garage sale is nirvana – the fact of Vinyl Record Day is something like Gay Pride Day: a chance to come out of the closet (or perhaps the basement) and put an OFFICIAL stamp on an unofficial obsession. For those us who decide to do it wearing pumps and a feather boa, it could very well be a dual coming out party.
It’s a chance to consider the pros and cons of this fixation we have with these 12″ circles of black polyvinyl chloride, to account the many dollars spent, to exhalt in the many hours indulged, to witness the broken relationships over music tastes (her: the Ramones; me: Van Morrison). It’s a time to “see the big picture,” as they say, which, given the demise of decent album artwork since the advent of the CD, seems a rightful way to put it.
It all started somewhere: I can’t say for sure but I think my first album purchase happened in the summer of 1970, just before I turned seven. There was a place about 3 or 4 miles away from my house called Danny Discount. My family patronized Danny Discount not only for the extremely cheap vinyl shoes but for the fact that Dad was an advertising salesman and Danny was one of his customers.
To this day, I can still bring to mind the smell of the place as I walked up the ramp to the modified wearhouse where it was located: like a badly mixed Kiss album, it smelled of stale popcorn, cotton candy, mildew and formaldehyde (from all those vinyl shoes, which I believe deserve their own day, as well).
I bought a lot of records from Danny Discount over the years: my copy original copy of Takin’ It To The Streets, which I still have, was purchased there. I distinctly remember pondering many times whether to purchase Neil Diamond‘s Hot August Nights as my parents hauled out cases of Diet Rite soda and car batteries. (I didn’t buy it…and still don’t own it….yet).
But the very first purchase was the Partridge Family album. I would later become extremely jealous of that holy triumvirate of pre-teen-girl-attention-stealing pretty boys (David Cassidy, Donny Osmond and Tony DeFranco) but, at seven, it was not an issue. I Think I Love You, sung in such a desperate voice, was actually something I related to back then.
To say I’ve lost count of the records that’ve passed through my hands since the David Cassidy years is quite a statement since I’ve spent many hours doing just that: counting and cataloging and organizing. Alphabetical by artist is always best (with Steve Miller Band under “M”, bonehead); by genre is easily the worst (where the hell do you put Living Color?).
At the peak of my record collecting obsession, I owned somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 or 6-thousand records. Tons of promos from radio stations where I worked, tons of stuff inherited from format changing stations, some never pulled from the jackets. That was fine while living in one place but once I started moving around I had to seriously consider the value of hauling around a complete library of Switch records.
Sometime around 1995 or so (gasp!) I dumped a few thousand on a used record store somewhere on the east side of Syracuse, New York. Those that were left have been torn from each other like brothers in separate foster homes: half of them are here with Dad in Washington, living well in the nice cool confines of the Buddha Barn while the other half are staying at Grandmom’s house.
I’ve considered taking PayPal donations here on the site for the purpose of uniting these sadly separated siblings, kind of like UNICEF for the vinyl generation. Bring The Records Home! Perhaps yellow magnetized ribbons for the back of your car. Why should the military be the only one to co-op Tony Orlando? We loved him first!)
My last purchase was a quartet of albums I picked up at a yard sale a few weeks ago: the very first Isley Brothers record onT-Neck (The Brothers: Isley); a scribbled-upon copy of Dwight Yoakam‘s Hillbilly Deluxe; a hacked up version of the Impressions‘ This Is my Country and a copy of James Brown‘s Sex Machine (Recorded Live at Home in Augusta, Georgia With His Bad Self).
My daughter and I had gone off for our weekly pony ride at my friend Julia’s farm. Whenever we’re together on the way to visit Texas and Daffodil, the floodgates open for her and she talks almost constantly about everything that’s on her mind. I don’t remember much about what she says — there’s so much of it — but I hear the rhythm of her speech in my dreams. It’s our time together in the mix of soccer games and baseball games and violin lessons and school work.
We were on our way home when we found this sale: she got a few stuffed animals, I got a few albums and we got two hours together.
The memories that go with the music and the records has more impact, sometimes, than the records themselves. And, in the end, that’s really what all this is all.
With love for the Car-Dog.