We are a family of music lovers. I have mentioned that my mother and father met because my dad played clarinet and saxophone in my mom’s brother’s band. We always had music playing in my house. From the days when I was very little, I have memories of music coming from a crackly radio that sat on my mom’s kitchen counter from which she listened to KFAB radio, humming along to the tunes of Dean Martin and Doris Day.
KFAB, by the way, now apparently an all-talk AM station, was where Johnny Carson began his career. He worked there while attending the University of Nebraska (where he was a member of my father’s fraternity). This, I’m afraid, is a factoid not a bit pertinent to what I’m about to tell you.
Back 1960s, there was a record player in our basement. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it’s where Bec and Jen and I, throughout our formative years, listened to music. Dave was too little; he was still playing with Matchbox cars. We mostly listened to singles – we called them 45s. I’m sure there are those among you who know why they were called 45s, but I only know that I would save up my money to buy all of the top 40 hits. I would stack them up on the turntable, and one by one, they would drop down and an arm with a needle on it would automatically move over to play such hits as Red Rubber Ball or I’m a Believer or Happy Together. We would sing and dance to the music. Jen would tell you that is the period of time during which she hoped to be a professional singer when she grew up until Bec pointed out to her that she didn’t actually have that great a singing voice.
Here’s a true fact. If I listen to a 60s radio station, not only can I sing along with the music (remembering EVERY SINGLE WORD), but sometimes I can actually remember the color of the label on the 45. Especially if it was Capital Records.
My sisters and I were reminiscing about vinyl records the other day because we were at Barnes and Noble and I came across a display of vinyl records. Now probably you all knew that vinyl (and that’s apparently what it is being called as opposed to “albums”) was making a comeback, but it was news to me. I stood there in absolute amazement, and finally took out my phone to take a picture. A B & N employee, seemingly around my age, walked up to me and said, “You are taking a photo because you can’t believe you’re seeing albums. Am I right?”
I assured her she was dead on. And in addition to my amazement at the reappearance of albums, I was astonished to see the price. The Beatles White Album….guess how much? A mere $35.99. I remember when I would save up my money to purchase the newest Beatles album for $4.99 or thereabouts.
“What do they play the, ahem, vinyl on?” I asked the B & N employee. She pointed to a small box that held a turntable.
I must tell you at this point that the record player we listened to in the basement wasn’t very big . However, my dad had a stereo console upstairs that was a major piece of furniture. His pride and joy.
I didn’t open the box, but it certainly didn’t even come close to my dad’s stereo. But his had built-in speakers.
From the time that music began to be digitally produced, the arguments commenced. Which produces better sound – analog or digital? Apparently sound is – by definition – analog, so it would seem like the music coming from albums would be richer. Still, I remember how absolutely IMPRESSED I was at the clean sound coming from CDs. No crackle from worn records.
Over the years, I owned numerous albums – and when CDs came into my life, the albums went into the garbage. Who knew that 35 years later we would be once again looking at vinyl records? At $35 a pop.
And, by the way, I know that anyone under the age of 20 doesn’t even know what I’m talking about when I say CD. I simply can’t keep up. But as Bec says, at least she can buy singles again on Itunes!
P.S. Ever since I typed the words “Red Rubber Ball” I cannot get that song out of my head. You’re welcome Baby Boomers…..