“I go to a lot of estate sales as I’m intrigued by anything with a little dust on it.”
“Having bought and listened to records since I was a teenager, I’m huge fan of vinyl. I find as an adult now (oh god), I’m most creative working while listening to creepy, slightly sharp (or flat) horn solos from the ’40s or jazz noire compilations from all the fabulous European companies that are helping to keep vinyl alive.
My current record player was bought at the Melrose Flea market in Hollywood and is a Vintage 1972 SE -990 Panasonic that came with matching speakers. It’s been a total gem and an integral part of me discovering myself in the City of Angels. There is nothing more relaxing than cooking or hanging out with my dogs, Louis Armstrong, and Pearl Bailey with lit candles and listening to my favorite pianist, Vince Guaraldi. My most favorite records lately have come from a website called Fantastic Voyage. They have all the rarities that inspire and fuel me to do what I do in life.
Growing up in Kansas City as a kid, I did a lot of professional theater and my mom and dad would drive me to do 2PM matinée and 8PM performances all the time. In the car we listened to this fabulous radio station called Fish Fry Friday that basically changed my life. Lyrically the way songs told stories in the ’50s and ’60s has really stuck with me.
“My first memories of vinyl are listening to my dad’s Simon and Garfunkel and Beatles records. Those were always playing in my house as a kid. I also remember poking in the dust caps of my dad’s speakers. Incidentally, my 2 year old daughter just returned the favor this month. I’ve had that coming for 30 years.”
“To be honest, I only recently was turned back on to vinyl. I appreciate the sonic differences for sure, but I’ve always chosen the convenience of using my phone over sonics. That said, six months ago, during the darkest and scariest time of our life, my wife and I decided to install a record player center-stage in our living room and start collecting vinyl records, for the first time in our lives.
A year ago my wife and I received the news that our fourth child, to be born a few months later, had a fatal disease and would most likely not survive birth. If she did, she would not live more than a few hours. We were turned over to grief counselors and referred to a funeral home to make arrangements. Miraculously, she survived birth, then her first few hours, then her first few days. Ten months later Olivia is still alive!
The first few months of Olivia’s life were beautiful and they were hell. We said goodbye to her more times than we could count, but each time she pulled out of it. It was an emotional roller coaster to say the least. We were tired and our nerves were fried. A friend gave us a check and told us to buy something that would bring us some joy. We decided to buy a record player and some vinyl.
“Nat King Cole’s Christmas music is the first memory I have of vinyl.”
“My parents had a record player and would mostly play records around the holidays. Nat King Cole, George Winston, The Carpenters and others are my earliest musical memories. But my first personal experience with vinyl of my own accord, was at local resale shops as a teenager.
I knew very little about music, but I would scour every resale shop I could, to find interesting records I had never seen or heard of before. I’d buy them based on their album art alone, which led to some really interesting finds that ended up inspiring me and the music I make today, at least in some subtle way.
“Even though music has been a huge, important part of my life, I’ve never been a big record collector. I have two older brothers who amassed extensive collections while we were growing up, so I would more often spend my money on musical instruments and equipment.”
“Because of this, the few records I decided to buy became very special to me, and one such album is The Beatles, better known as the ‘White Album.’ I have a distinct recollection of going shopping in the local mall, after the Christmas holiday in 1968, to spend some gift money and I remember being shocked and awed by the stacks and stacks of that record piled up throughout the store.
I was immediately taken with the impact of the stark blank cover and the repetition of the image so prominently displayed. ‘Are you going to buy the new Beatles record?’ I asked my brother. ‘No, I don’t think so,’ he replied. ‘Their last one (Magical Mystery Tour) wasn’t too good, and judging by the cover of the new one, they seem to have run out of ideas.’
“I’m a big vinyl fan, but it wasn’t always that way. When I was younger I collected CDs, a whole lot of CDs. They were the most accessible way for me as a kid to experience new music, but they were more than that as well. TV shows and radio were great and all, but if you wanted to really delve into what a band or an artist was about and what they’d created, you had to experience the album, and for me that was CDs.”
“Part way through my CD collecting days newer technology started to creep in. Phones could hold music now! Not a lot of music though, so you’d pick a couple of tracks from here, a track from there, you’d put your CDs into your computer and start harvesting them for songs; these little moments you could take anywhere with you. But this made sure we had to be very selective, I remember picking short songs to try to squeeze more onto phones and iPods, I don’t even know how people dealt with an iPod shuffle. The playlist became the norm, and these randomized songs lost their context, their place in time and their carefully crafted place within their albums. This is what brings me to vinyl.
You can’t play a record on the bus or at the gym, and you definitely can’t shuffle it. For me vinyl was the transformative object that would turn a set of songs into an experience and take the songs back to the way they were meant to be heard. The records themselves become these physical manifestations of these moments as you yourself move the needle over, sit in front of the stereo, and hold the gatefold in your hands.
“My first connection to vinyl was a Muppets record when I was five. It was the only time I got to use my dad’s record player. Shortly after, my brother and I started scratching the records, Run DMC-inspired. My dad eventually caught us and shut down our operation. I always had a reverence for records, the large physical aspect coupled with the fact that they were off limits was mystical to me.”
“I guess when you are young; you just listen to what your folks are playing around you.
My dad was in the Safaris when I was a kid, growing up in Southern California, and they use to rehearse in my garage, so I was always around surf music. I remember being influenced by The Mermen’s album Songs of the Cow. My mother’s father was a jazz musician from Sweden who played with Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Chet Baker. My grandmother gave me a couple of records, which was my introduction to jazz. His name was Rolf Ericson.
I’d like to release this upcoming EP on vinyl. There is still something so nostalgic about laying around a record player with albums strewn across the floor. I’d like to contribute to that.”
“My first memories of vinyl are very PG, very innocent—two little girls sitting on the rug, staring up at the monolithic hi-fi as our parent or babysitter set the record on play, dropped the needle, and handed us the jacket to hold. We heard the fuzz, fighting over who got to hold the big square cardboard cover. The music then wafted down from three-foot wooden boxed speakers. We sang along with the familiar warm sounds, a cold winter day outside, a familiar feeling of security, home, coming down through sound.”
“Upstairs we had a Casio mini boombox with slots for two cassettes—later we would use these to tape things off the radio—SWV, TLC, En Vogue, Boys 2 Men, Snoop Dogg, Tupac, and Madonna—Hot 97, Z100 (the NY area’s major radio stations that played pop, hip hop, and rock at the time), but in the early ’80s seated on the rug staring up at the record player, pop radio had not yet entered our musical vocabulary. That was limited to our parents’ record collection, edited within that to the things they thought suitable for young girls—The Weavers at Carnegie Hall, Raffi, Peter and the Wolf (which had an illustrated read-along booklet inside the vinyl’s cardboard cover—the oboe, the flute, the horn—each sound representing a different character).
Around this time, the early ’80s, my dad brought home some Cabbage Patch Kids dolls for Christmas (I think I was 3 and my sister was 4). Any child of the ’80s will remember these round face dolls with plastic heads and cloth bodies. There’s a photo of us in front of the Christmas tree when we still lived in the city, holding each of our dolls in our pajamas. We knew somehow how special this gift was—in hindsight we must have been aware that our mother would never have bought these dolls for us ordinarily. She was not big on buying trendy commercial toys (until we, as older kids, wore her down with begging). These dolls came unprompted by us.
“I was raised on vinyl. My dad played all kinds of classical and jazz records and my mom had these Tajuana Brass albums that we’d dance to. One of my earliest memories is of learning how to put the needle onto the record ever-so-gently and watching it spin. And the sound…like a warm fuzzy blanket…hiss and pops and then the confessional. It was the best way to pass the time during those cold Canadian winters.”
“When I was 13 I got a record player of my own. By then I was all about Joni Mitchell’s Blue (girl angst personified) and early Dylan, JT, Neil Young, Laura Nyro, Crosby Stills & Nash…all the hippie stuff. I was a little late to the party. These records had come out some years before, but to me every song was my story.
On weekend nights if I wasn’t gigging with my band I was hanging at my friend Kim’s house where there was always a party. To a accommodate the mixed gender crowd we listened to records with a tad more testosterone—Zeppelin, The Stones, Pink Floyd, Bowie, Cream, Bob Marley, Joe Jackson—we’d play cards, kiss boys, drink Canadian beer, and spin records late into the night.
“When I was a kid vinyl was the only format besides 8-track tape. My older brother and sister had record collections that I borrowed from. I listened to comedy albums, movie soundtracks, rock ‘n’roll, doo-wop, Motown and, of course, the British Invasion on a record player as I was growing up.”
“It is my favorite way to listen to music—even during all the excitement when compact discs became the new thing. Like many of my friends, I took advantage of the new format because so many people switched over to CDs and got rid of their record collections and turntables. It was a great time for collecting records!
I like to keep a picture disc on my turntable when I’m not playing records and sometimes I even give it a spin.”
“It may sound crazy to a lot of people, but I grew up in a town without a real record store.”
“Laredo, Texas had one shop in the mall that sold a limited amount of music along with other electronics. It was a small town with not many shopping resources. That isolation creates an intense desire to seek music out. It would only be on family trips to San Antonio, TX that I would spend every dime I saved to hit stores like CD Exchange or Hogwild Records or Warehouse Music. Then on the ride home I could listen to all this new treasure.
That was small town life, pre-internet. Everything has changed except the joy that comes from discovering new music. Record stores still have a tremendous impact. A few years ago, I was at Grimey’s record shop here in Nashville, near my house. An employee named Noah was familiar with an old band I played in and recommended a band he thought I would like. They didn’t have anything available, but a reissue was coming soon. That band was the Ghetto Brothers, and that recommendation made a huge impact on me.