Archive for records

A SINGLE REGRET

Posted in Life, The Popular with tags , , , , on December 2, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

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I CAN’T imagine that kids today will even remember, say 30 years from now, the first single they ever downloaded. It’s jspindleust not the same as when I was a kid, when I’d head to Caldor or to Cutler’s in New Haven and hope, hope, hope they’d have copies of that great song I’d just heard on the radio.

I’d scan the singles chart, find the the number of the song I wanted, and peek at the corresponding record slot — would it be filled or empty? It was strangely exhilarating — or maybe I was just a really boring kid. Either way, I loved music, and there was something about this physical hunt for songs that thrilled me. Not to sound like a nostalgic old fart, but it was way better than hitting the search button at iTunes.

So today’s blog entry is the request of a friend and fellow music lover who still collects 45s today (as a former DJ, I know the importance of taking requests.) He suggested a post on the first 45 I ever bought. I think he suggested it at my expense, because he knows it’s a bit embarrassing. But here goes.

First, context: I loved (and still do love) pop music. Second, I grew up in a house with no Beatles albums (although my older sister had “The Chipmunks Sing The Beatles Hits” LP — for years, when I heard actual Beatles songs, I thought they were playing at the wrong speed…) Third, music kinda sucked in the early ’70s, so my choices were limited. Fourth, I was probably 8 years old at the time — long before I learned the difference between cool and uncool music.

OK, enough stalling. orlandoThe way I remember it, the first 45 I ever bought (the first of hundreds and hundreds I would buy over the next decade) was “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” by Tony Orlando & Dawn. (For bonus embarrassment points: I even watched their variety show in the ’70s.)

In my defense, it was the top-selling single in 1973 — someone in my house had to buy it. That May, it sold 3 million copies in just three weeks! And it’s a song that wouldn’t die (its resurgence in later years totally ruined the Iranian hostage crisis and the first Gulf War for me…)

So there ya go. Sad, I know. But c’mon, “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” is still a cooler first single than a download of “Ooops!… I Did It Again,” right? Right?

(Don’t leave me hanging here. Share your story — especially if your first 45 was crappier than mine, like “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero” or “Shannon.”)

THE LATEST THING IN OLD THINGS

Posted in The Popular with tags , , , , on July 18, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

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A FOOTNOTE (or a bonus track, perhaps?) to this week’s post on the re-emergence of vinyl:

Seeing an ancient format touted as the hot new thing just cracks me up. Check out this art from newburycomics.com (and click on it to see their top sellers):

Love the exclamation point. Newbury Comics is a pretty big New England chain of music stores (remember those?) that has somehow survived as Tower and other chains have vanished. Wouldn’t it be funny if the vinyl record brought back the record store?

THE NEEDLE AND THE DAMAGE DONE

Posted in The Popular with tags , , , , , , on July 16, 2008 by Adam Sapiro

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THE LP is back!

At least that’s what I keep hearing. Young music fans disappointed by MP3s apparently love the warmer, richer sound of vinyl, and are snapping up platters by the likes of Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Madonna, Radiohead and Weezer (Weezer on vinyl? Talk about a music geek’s wet dream.) Amazon.com now has a vinyl-only section, and even Best Buy is testing the waters. And turntables are selling like … well, they’re selling like a nearly dead technology that nerds have made kinda cool again.

Sure, vinyl is still a niche market. Hell, people who pay for music these days are a niche. But some kids who were born after the compact disc took over are finding they prefer the sound of their music on vinyl. They say they like the large artwork and liner notes. They say they enjoy the tactile experience of placing the LP on the turntable and dropping the needle onto the groove. Jee-zus, get out much?

I do agree with them that MP3s sound like crap, but I grew up with vinyl and I ain’t going back. (Here’s my early-’80s linear-tracking Technics turnable, stored away in my basement.)

I don’t miss the pops, the crackles, the hisses and the skips of my favorite records. I don’t miss having to gather my senses long enough to get up off the bed and turn over “Remain In Light.” (And “Sandinista!” required so much flipping, it was practically an aerobics routine.)

I don’t miss the warping or the wiping, or the way the pitch of the music would go up and down if the groove wasn’t centered perfectly on the plastic. And I certainly don’t miss lugging around the milk crates full of albums. All those goddamn milk crates.

To me, compact discs are the best compromise between richer-sounding LPs and portable MP3s. OK, so CDs do sound a bit bright and sterile. And you can’t do blow off an MP3. But if records are so great, let’s commit and bring back the frickin’ Victrola — that way these music nerds can crank it all they want.