The Lost reference aside, life is a turntable. It spins, it crackles, it skips… sometimes it repeats, but if we let it go and really play, we’ll be taken into a world of beauty and inspiration and we’ll learn so much about ourselves and all that is around us.
The flaws of a pop or a sound other than the music are part of the charm. The hiss… the bump… it is all part of the experience.
I long for the days when I sat on the floor of my bedroom, brown matted carpet beneath me, a turntable in front of me… and a giant set of headphones cradling my ears. When I saved up, I was able to buy what must have been a twenty foot, tightly bound, spiraled extension cord, so I could listen to my music in bed. I tell you, other than the Hayden Planetarium, Pink Floyd never sounded so good.
I would look at the records lined up in alphabetical order… sometimes even by genre… yes, that Diner scene is me…
My index finger glided over the top of each cover, occasionally making the sound of a baseball card in the spokes of a bike… then I would stop, gently pull forward the cardboard and stare…
See… with albums, it wasn’t just about the ritual of the turntable… There was and is so much more… the touch, the feel, the smell… the sight… I have talked about this a lot… I was even published in the LA Times editorial section describing the experience, in response to an article about Cameron Crowe, a writer and director who uses music perhaps better than anyone.
With albums… it was also about the art… The art!!! It was and will always be a complete visceral experience. It was like a laser light show without the planetarium… a concert without the arena…
Like a surgeon, the record player would be prepped… dust would be blown off the turntable, the arm would be moved to the side…
So the desired album was off the shelf… The coolest ones were the ones that opened… It was like a novella filled with pictures and lyrics… You’d tilt it a bit, so that the sleeve and the vinyl would slide out, hopefully together. Then you would grab hold of the slick, black disc with as little of your fingers as possible… quickly moving it so that it almost floated between your hands… the base of the inside of your fingers on the edges… Making sure your mouth was dry, you’d softly breathe and blow any dust away and then, carefully and evenly, you’d place it down over the spindle… Some phonographs would have an arm that made the platter drop… this made me nervous. I liked to put my albums down onto the black rubber wheel myself… and then, with only the tip of my right index finger would I inch the diamond needle over the edge of the disc. I hated it when I would miss and the needle would drop with a thud just off the record. A few of those meant a costly trip to the record store.
But success meant everything. When that needle hit just the right spot, the world would reveal itself. Grooves in a black disc would
Back then you would sit and listen to music… really listen. You’d pour over the album cover and sleeve, if it had art or lyrics on it, like you did a cereal box as a kid. The detail of album art was astonishing… It meant something. Music was a full and total artistic experience back then.
On Wednesdays, 100.3 plays album sides all day. They were just talking about the photo shoot for the album cover of Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason, and how 700 individual beds were actually placed on the beach. That doesn’t happen anymore. I guess, given the state of the music business it can’t. Yet another ritual, another experience chalked up to memory and nostalgia.
Albums are making a come back. They should. Albums were everything. The time and the effort invested were always rewarded… always… And for those twenty or thirty minutes for each side… you were taken away, you were immersed. We need that… now more than ever.
“For a world without music, is a world not worth living in.”