My parents had a console stereo when I was a kid. It was a large, cabinet-like piece of furniture with speakers that had gold-yellow threads in their covers. When the lid was closed it looked almost like an ordinary credenza with a potted plant sitting atop it. I loved that thing more than was reasonable. I have my own memories of listening to the radio and records and even eight tracks in the living room, the muted warm and softly scratchy sound pouring from within and shaking my tiny bones. My father tells me of his own memories, listening to records with me on his lap. My mother recalls lying in front of it, her pregnant belly facing the speakers. I get my love of music honest and organically and I’m pretty sure a tiny piece of me died the day my parents decided to get rid of the console stereo. Times had changed. Eight tracks were long gone, records had fallen out of fashion, and to be honest music wasn’t as central in our house the older we all got. I turned my developing ear to whatever was coming out of the boombox my parents purchased me for my room and began to fumble my way through pop music cassettes, my personal rebellion of classical music, and an eventual adoption of CDs from far-flung genres I slipped in now and again. At some point my parents picked up a portable record player that I latched onto and immediately set up in my bedroom. I think I was the only sixteen-year-old I knew that had stacks and stacks of vinyl squirreled away. I spent my teens spinning old country, Beatles, the Police, Blondie, and Joni Mitchell. When I moved out I took the hi-fi with me. I’m pretty sure that most of my sorority sisters had no idea what to make of me. I took that record player with me every move from eighteen on.
A few years ago, though, my trusty hi-fi died. I’m not sure if it was a combination of being poorly stored for a few months during a tense time of my life or simply more than a decade of near-constant use, but when I set it up with the intention of spinning some Sgt. Pepper’s whilst lying on the floor with my headphones on my reliable turntable simply wouldn’t turn. I was as heartbroken as I was when my parents sold the console. Once again, for me, the music had died. Sure, I had CDs and my massive MP3 collection, but nothing is quite as raw as listening to an LP. And now that vinyl is making a quiet comeback I was going to be missing out on new music in the warm, rich way it was meant to be heard. Yesterday, though, all of that changed. We got a new portable, a simple Crosley with USB connections so I can transfer music if I want to. It looks like a gold suitcase (fancy!) and the sound quality isn’t great, but my speakers hook up perfectly. Within five minutes of getting the beast home, I had it ripped out of its package and was dancing around my living room to the Police, blaring Ghost in the Machine while I spun around and felt, for a few moments, immortal.
Matt Nathanson, one of my favorite musicians, has a t-shirt. It reads “music is better than people” with the “people” crossed out and “anything” written instead. I cannot agree more. Happy Monday, humans. I hope you find some great music to get your week off to a good start. As for me I’ve got to go swap records out. I’ve got some Helen Reddy to hit up.