Saturday, September 3, 2016

My Music Is Back

One of those "Two Roads Converged in a Tulgey Woods" stories.
When friends came over to help clean out the house after Jack died, I saw the incredible number of LPs and 45s both of us collected when we were younger persons. I kept two a complete system and one in need of a pre-amp, which I still have. I've been giving some consideration to putting the system together and giving it a try.
Wednesday was Old Farts' Eye Exam Discount Day at one of the chain optics stores. Since I am bus-dependent, I arrived early and went to Guitar Center. I haven't been there in years (no reason to go), so I decided to see what has and hasn't changed in the last several years. Plus, a set of headphones is considering bidding me farewell, so I wanted to price a new set. As it turned out, they had a very good AKG set and a turntable that you can plug in said headphones and enjoy the music or plug into the computer and make .mp3s from cuts on the LPs. And it was all on sale for the holiday. I took advantage of the sale price.
I haven't tried to make .mp3s yet, but I plugged the headphones into the turntable and had a great, sentimental, happy, sad, and OMG reunion time this afternoon. It may mean I'll never come out of the house again.
What was the first thing I wanted to hear on my return to my records? That actually took a little thinking. One of the most influential TV shows on my life was a 1962 special called Julie (Andrews) and Carol (Burnett) at Carnegie Hall. For some reason I noticed the orchestra, bought the record, and listened to it forever. The orchestra (that is, the orchestration) added to the fun without getting in the way. Great arranging. Also, I love Julie and Carol; it was nice to hear them again, pretty much as I remembered.
Second album? Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles. It was one of the few albums, especially pop albums, that I could listen to top to bottom. Most albums I bought because I liked one or two of the songs; I knew of no clunkers on Sgt. Pepper then and I still pretty much feel that way. It was somehow refreshing to hear the old familiar pops and scratches. I bought the CD to replace my LP of a lot of my records, and I missed those pops and scratches. I knew where they were and they were part of the song. CDs were pop and scratch free, but there's a sterility to digital reproduction that is fine for a lot of people. I prefer the warmer, friendlier vinyl surface.
My grandmother Walker had a 78rpm record player. She had a few records that I, as a young child, was allowed to play. The problem with 78s, of course, was the amount of time per side. Classical music in particular was not the 78s' best friend. She had a recording of The Nutcracker: Suite which I adored. To this day, when I hear "Waltz of the Flowers," I can hear where the break in the music was so you could flip the record and listen to the rest of the music.
I've had "conversations" with sound buddies and opinionated friends. They contend digital is the only way to go and/or there's no difference in the sound quality between vinyl and digits. No. Sorry. Now that I'm back to a turntable, there IS a difference and my preference goes to vinyl, pops and scratches and all. For my personal listening pleasure. Obviously, digital works better for people on the go and for music and effects in plays. But for me, for the joy and rest and comfort of kicking back and listening to the music I love, I'm so glad to have access to vinyl again.

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