Record Store Day

Saturday was Record Store Day. Hipsters unite! Actually, I’m not a hipster, though I used to be one before everyone knew what they were.

Having celebrated Record Store Day by visiting a local shop and buying a stack of records, I thought I would take the opportunity to write a music-centric post. First of all, here’s our new stash:

We’re pretty straight forward with the music we like: classic rock, alternative and folk. When we’re working on the house on Penny Lane, we typically stick to some tried and true favorites: Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Iron & Wine and U2. Yep. That pretty much sums us up. And with our “new” record player, which allows music to be an experience rather than just something in the background, we’re motivated to actually get work done while listening to our music.


11 Comments to “Record Store Day”

  1. First of all, your taste in music is flawless. How did you do that?

    Secondly, if you’re true hipsters you’ll need single-gear bicycles, plus corduroy pants (rolled up, with plaid lining showing). And big smiles.


    Love you two — Us two

  2. D&L: Not to sound like I’m claiming any responsibility, but three of those were in the house while she was growing up (and also happen to be among my all-time favorite albums). It’s just good I never hummed a lot or they’d not be there now.

  3. Oh, and I’m hoping for a demo this weekend.

  4. Solid choices.

    Interesting that while the musical quality is consistently high across the selections, the quality of the cover art is much more variable. Also noteworthy that the most talented lyricists, from whom I’d expect accompanying sensitivity and sophistication in cover choice, seem to be the worst offenders. This is all somewhat subjective, of course.

    I’m curious how you mean this, because I think you’re really onto something: “. . . which allows music to be an experience rather than just something in the background.” I think intangible digital media files on random shuffle do take some of the soul out of the listening experience, and they definitely rob you of the visual and tactile pleasures of hard copy LPs. And while I love the convenience of automatically generated playlists, especially when driving, something about the decrease in volition and effort does change the experience qualitatively, though perhaps more in kind than degree.

    • Mark,

      I remember the first time I purchased my own music. The medium was a choice between cassette tape and compact disc. It was 1996 and I unwisely chose the cassette. Fortunately, I purchased only CDs from then on and never really had to put any effort into listening to music. I just pressed play and repeat, skipped past the songs I didn’t like much and was sure never to take a razor to my CDs, except for the ones I was embarrassed to own.

      Listening to vinyl records, however, I find to be very deliberate. Find your record, choose which side of the record to listen to first then gently set the tone arm so that it doesn’t fly halfway into the first song. Rob found an interesting tidbit on the interior sleeve of our 1970 Bridge Over Troubled Water album: “With records, it’s easy to pick out the songs you want to play, or to play again a particular song or side. All you have to do is lift the tone arm and place it where you want it.” They make it sound so easy.

      With so much work being put into playing a record and only being allowed 5 songs before needing to flip, I find myself preferring to just sit and listen. And that’s when I get to hear that record sound. The snap as the tone arm is set on the vinyl, the subtle crackles through the end of each song and the loud crackles in the negative space between the songs. There’s a warmth there that can’t be found in MP3s.

      If I can find the time to put up with the relative inconvenience of listening to a vinyl record, I much prefer it.

      • Thanks for the reply, Taylor. I remember the romance of my Dad’s turntable as a young child. Even aside from the other aspects of the experience, there’s just a warmth to the vinyl sound that’s unmistakable and endearing.

        With regard to early days of buying records–I knew better than to think my mom would rubber-stamp my purchasing choices, so I did the next best thing and used the record feature on my “boom-box.” I’d spend an entire summer day calling in requests to 96X, the alternative rock station at the time, to build the perfect mixed-tape cassette. They eventually politely told me that you were only supposed to call in once a day, but in retrospect, they were surprisingly accommodating. I’d actually play the tapes in the car with my mom, but I knew if I tried to convince her to let me buy them they’d go through a much tougher screening process, and some of my favorites would get vetoed. Anyways, I vividly remember once as a young teenager playing the song “Low,” by Cracker, with my mom and sister in the car. When the line “To be with you girl’s like being low; hey, hey, hey like being stoned” played, my Sister said it didn’t make sense. After some discussion, we realized that the root of her confusion was over the meaning of “stoned” in that context. I said, “You just don’t know what he means when he says ‘stoned,'” She protested, “Yes I do! Like back in Bible-times!” Our family laughs about that to this day.

  5. ^^Sheesh. That honestly didn’t sound as nerdy in my head when I was typing it. On a second read, however . . .

  6. So it’s the summer of 1968 and I’m 12 years old, and my best friend Stephen Hicks comes over to my house — breathless — and tells me “You’ve gotta hear this!!” — and we listen to “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams on the radio. Stephen is right, it’s amazing — so we talk his mom into taking us to The Landing where we both buy the single. Then we play it about a thousand times, alternating mine and his so we don’t wear one out.

    This memory is a response to Mark (above), who obliquely mentions Pandora and similar services, which are interesting — but not quite the same as having a best friend who knows your taste in music, and cuts in line in front of you so he can claim to have bought the single first. Which Mr. Hicks actually did.

    BTW Stephen is in heaven now, thus unable to defend himself against the facts presented here (all verifiable). My new best friend (since 1975) is much more polite. 🙂 We both greatly enjoyed the recent experience of James Taylor and Carole King, reunited at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, together with their original back-up band from the 70’s, doing a playlist of greatest hits. We are wearing out the CD in our car; the DVD is excellent also. There are slight differences in the two mixes (CD and DVD) which is curious…

    As an aside:

    In real-life we can’t do so many run-on sentences which is why we so enjoy the freedom of commenting on people’s blogs where the rules of grammar can be discarded somewhat, albeit at some risk of impaired readability.

    • Dave & Lisa,

      That’s a fun memory; lots of pathos there.

      Some of my fondest are of buying music with an old childhood friend and then trying to learn how to play them on the guitar together. When I reminisce about being a teenager, those same songs play in the soundtrack in my mind.

  7. Your dad and I had an awesome turntable at one time (not sure where it is now?) where you pressed a button to have it lift the needle arm, then pressed it again once you had the arm repositioned where you wanted it, and it gently lowered into place. It prevented those horrible scratches that happened when doing it manually.

  8. And I’ll have to take a little credit for having a couple of those albums on hand-recorded cassette tapes and playing them over and over while the kids were in the car. They were immersed in some great artists that they might not have chosen themselves!

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