Memories of my first record purchase are fuzzy at best, but I never will forget the euphoric feeling of holding that 12" round cylinder in my hands for the first time. I was mesmerized by the size, shape and feel of the record. It was probably one of the schmaltzy country records from my Mom and Dad's vinyl collection like Charlie Pride or Eddy Rabbit, but I can't be too sure about the exact artist and title. All I remember is being transfixed by the record as it spun around, filling the room with melodious sound.
Several years would pass before I bought my first record which was probably something like Van Halen Self-Titled, AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap or Queen Greatest Hits. I know it is strange that someone who has such an encyclopedic knowledge of music can forget what record was the first one that they ever bought, but my memory has failed me in this respect. I remember that as I entered the record store for the first time, my hands started tingling and I knew that I had entered an exciting new world with unlimited possibilities. I made my way to the rock section for that specific artist that I had heard on the radio or MTV and started shuffling through the titles slowly so I would be sure to spot the record I sought. Once I located the record, I made my way towards the checkout counter, hoping that the record clerk behind the counter wouldn't judge me on my choice of purchase.
While I stood in line, my palms were sweating and thoughts steadily raced through my mind in anticipation of what the record would sound like. I noticed my heart rate increasing and my knees were weak as I raced home to listen to the record, much like the feeling that comes from a first love. Once I arrived at home, I took the shrinkwrap off the record with an intensity that is often reserved for someone who plays extreme sports. Then, I gently dropped the needle into the groove of the record and was enraptured by the sound. The warm crackle of the vinyl filled the room with a sound that could best be described as incendiary. From this day on, I would be eternally devoted to that round plastic disc with magic embedded in the grooves.
The next time you are thinking about selling off your entire record collection so you can digitize everything, please rethink your decision. Listening to vinyl is a precious gift that should not be wasted, and its resurgence is the primary reason that record stores are staying afloat in the digital age. While I certainly have my fair share of music in mp3, FLAC, wav and other digital formats, there is absolutely no substitute for the warm sound of vinyl.
Please support the artists that you love and appreciate so that they can continue to release albums, and when possible, purchase albums from mom and pop record stores instead of from big box retailers like Amazon or Best Buy.
I leave you with this last thought and a link for a record that personifies my love for vinyl.
What was the first record that you ever bought, or you first memory of listening to music?
Until next time, keep you ear to the ground for more choice sounds.
Addendum: By the way, this two part download is not one of my mixes, it's an ode to 78's that was released a couple years ago on the Honest Jons label. I won't give away the title as this is still in print, but please feel free to guess what it is.
For the Love of Vinyl Part 1
For the Love of Vinyl Part 2