“The best part of the vinyl revival is that revealing you have an affinity for vinyl doesn’t mean you have to share your age. My musical journey begins with vinyl and a particular record I purchased back in 1971 as a 7 year old boy. Let It Be, The Beatles.”
“My father was headed to purchase new speakers for the small and humble stereo system in our apartment. At the time, my father was a surgical resident at Georgetown University and didn’t make much money. But he loved music, and I suppose that’s where my love comes from. He took my sister and I along with him.
When we arrived at the store, he told my sister and me to go the record bins and pick out one record each. There was one record that caught my eye, and it was Let It Be. I knew absolutely NOTHING about the Beatles, only that they looked cool and I wanted to be like them. So I picked the album and went to meet my father who was now standing in line to pay for his purchase. Right about that time my sister came with her pick. A Partridge Family record.
“The first album that had a tremendous impact was Dirty Mind by Prince.”
“It’s actually a memory burned into my consciousness. I remember fumbling through my stepfather’s record collection and picking up the album cover. I was probably 4 or 5 and a very curious child. I remember being puzzled. Was I looking at a man or woman? Or really, what was I seeing? My stepdad saw me holding that record sleeve and decided to complete the experience and played it for me. Let me tell you that a mushroom cloud effect happened in my brain.
Another turning point in my musical journey was when I discovered Dave Matthews. There was this girl from Missouri who was also a camp counselor at all Jewish camp in upstate PA. We’d sit and listen to her music collection in her car and make out. Her favorite artist was the Dave Matthews Band. Her first selection was Under The Table and Dreaming.
I remember it being an aha moment. I had not quite heard a band sound like that. The second DMB album that really got me hooked was These Crowded Streets. This featured a collaboration with a largely unknown Alanis Morrisette on a song called Spoon. Gorgeous tune. I listened to that over and over.
“Music was such a major force in my family. Both of my parents played a little guitar, my mother loved to sing and they had a great record collection too. I spent my childhood listening to Otis Redding, Etta James, Sam Cooke, CCR, Doobie Brothers, Eagles, ZZ Top, Beatles, Bob Seger, The Cars, Van Halen, Rod Stewart, James Taylor…I really could go on and on. From classic rock to rhythm and blues to country, I was introduced to so many influential artists by my parents.
I fell in love with music, and I’ve been playing ever since. I can easily say those records played a major part in shaping who I am. As a kid my dad would always have records playing and while I enjoyed them I never gave much thought to who was performing. Years later, I found out that it was almost exclusively Stevie Ray Vaughan. I attribute listening as a child to be the reason I’m so obsessed with him today.
Vinyl faded for a short period but when I was about 16. I pulled out their old record player again and set up a rudimentary stereo system in my bedroom. I liked the sound, and I liked the feeling of re-connecting to older music. From there, I started adding things as I could afford them—better stereo equipment, a better turntable, a nice cartridge, and, obviously, many more albums.
“Records were the first thing I clearly remember loving, and I don’t think it started out having anything to do with music; I was so young, I’m not sure I completely understood that records were a vehicle for delivering music, initially, but I sure was instantly attracted to them for some reason. I think they seemed like ultra-modern, shiny, great smelling, non-flying saucers to me; I know I couldn’t get enough of ’em. I used to draw with pencils on my parents records much to their chagrin. And I used to call them ‘yecords.'”
“Back then, in the early fifties, records—especially kids’ records—really were pretty wild. Not only was there different colors of vinyl, there were also brilliantly illustrated records (the ones I always remember most were a collection of Winnie the Pooh records—78s, apparently, in baby blue with yellow at the edges, and fabulous, pre-Disney illustrations on the actual vinyl, it seemed, tho it was actually paper, covered by some kind of clear vinyl-ish thing—MAGIC!) Of course, all the art back then was amazing (“Sparky’s Magic Piano”, “Rusty in Orchestraville”—it seemed like the Capitol stuff always looked the best.)
They even had animated kids’ records (in this case made by a company called Red Robin), where you’d put a little carousel with mirrors on your spindle, and an image printed on the record itself would be animated in the mirrors.
The very first record I managed to purloin was a green, square, cardboard record I got free at a hardware store about how to lay linoleum floor tiles; no doubt a very proud moment.
“I’ve always been obsessed with vinyl records ever since I was a little girl.”
“My mom has the most incredible collection that I have gradually acquired over the years. Every time I go home to Florida I nab at least one or two. I now have a collection of every Beatles record to Willie Nelson, Elvis, Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones, George Michael, Michael Jackson to name a few.
Vinyl records are like time machines. Once that needle hits the vinyl, the crackling and stereo sound fills the room, you close your eyes and the feel of the music reminisces to the time it was created and it’s as if you can feel the energy of the band or artist making the music in the studio. You can even smell the marijuana and booze filling the room with all the rock star debauchery going on all around.
“I was born in 1969, so when my friends and I were old enough to discover music independent from our parents, the vinyl I remember holding and studying for hours were albums like the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, Donna Summer’s Bad Girls, and the American Graffiti Soundtrack with that irresistible, animated centerfold of the rollerskating waitress.”
“We were six or seven-years old so it wasn’t like we had our own money to buy albums — instead, my introduction to vinyl was defined by rifling through the record collections of our older siblings when our older siblings weren’t home. Inside their bedrooms, we discovered the zipper on the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, The Velvet Underground “banana,” and the proudly hanging balls of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.
In my own home, a package of twelve LPs arrived at our door after my older brother and I joined the infamous Columbia House “Mail-Order” Record Club for the price of a penny. According to Columbia House, it was “an opportunity that may never come again” and the deal was simple: “Take any 11 albums for a penny. Then take a 12th one free!” What slipped by us was the fine print at the bottom: “If you join Columbia House now you agree to buy 8 more selections at regular club price in the next three years.” Seemingly getting something free, then later learning how much money we owed the company was a stone-cold, perfect introduction to the music business.
“In the scene where I came from, your vinyl collection was like a personality test on display for everyone to see. I had a record player from the time I was really young, about 5 years old, and started my first collection mostly from records my parents gave me…so lots of kids records (Free To Be You And Me anyone?) I loved that record player and my records and famously almost took off my younger bother’s fingers with my bedroom door for trying to get to them.”
“They were my first entry into understanding music and developing my love for it. I would sit for hours listening and looking at the covers and the images and photos on the inserts then later reading all the lyrics and credits. I was officially obsessed and knew I had to become a musician just so I could make one of these amazing things.
Later when I was about 11, I started begging my mom to drive me to the local punk record shop in Tucson, AZ. It was called Toxic Ranch. (How cool is that?) I had discovered punk and hardcore music through skateboarding and this was a place we all went to get educated by the older kids behind the counter about all the important records and read the fanzines. It was a huge part of our world and we would spend hours there talking, listening, and learning about music.
“Unlike a lot of people my age, my parents didn’t have a vinyl collection to pass down to me. It wasn’t because my parents aren’t cool—they actually really are. They got me into a lot of cool stuff when I was younger, like David Bowie, Billie Holiday, The Clash, and The Cure. My parents lost their entire vinyl collection due to water damage from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.”
“I was lucky enough to inherit a gargantuan collection of CDs, even if none of the CDs were in the right boxes. I would sit for hours listening to them as I would try to carefully put them back in their rightful boxes. I passed so much time when I was 11 listening to Fiona Apple’s When the Pawn… at full volume on my Walkman. When I was around 10, I did a project for my music class on David Bowie, and I remembered the laughter from my classmates when I played “Lady Stardust”—“they stared/ at the makeup on his face.” Bowie was supposed to be an outsider, and my classmates didn’t realize they fell right into his trap.
Fast-forward to high school, and Urban Outfitters was starting to sell record players. Never mind the source, record players had never been accessible to me. I decided that since I wanted to start buying records, I had to save up my allowance to buy a record player. In about a month I had enough money, so I finally bought one. I then immediately drove to Amoeba to buy some records. I’m pretty sure the first record I bought was self-titled record by The Velvet Underground & Nico. I was so excited to peel back the shrink-wrap and lay the needle down on the record. The initial crackling of the record player sent shivers down my spine. It was a night I certainly will never forget.
“I’m not sure when my love for vinyl really blossomed, probably 10 years ago or so.”
“My dad was living in London in the ’60s. He has all kind of stories about the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. When I was a little kid, I would stare at this orange turntable he had and go through the collection of LPs he brought back from that time. I was too small to really realize or even understand what a vinyl was all about, but I was curious.
But one day, some thieves broke in my parents’ country house and stole some furniture, some gear, and all the records. It was in the early ’80s and I was probably 2 or 3 years old.
Since this event, I believe I started buying vinyl in order to recreate his collection. The truth is I have no idea what he had on his shelves! I remember some Beatles records, and the album Revolver for sure. So that was my starting point.
“There’s something different about holding a vinyl record in your hands compared to a CD or your iPod. Our new ways of listening to music weren’t built to last the way they were, which in turn gives them a life of their own. Think about it. From the time a record is printed to the point it reaches a store, to when it’s bought, listened to, tucked away, and then found again, a record lives its own life.
“For example, the first time I got my hands on a record I was 14. I was late in the game. Neither of my parents had kept their record players, and I grew up in Italy after my mom had remarried an Italian man, so she had left all her records behind. My closest encounter with vinyl had been this incredibly old gutted out record player that my Nonna kept family photos in. It wasn’t until we were visiting my mother’s parents’ home in Los Angeles one summer that I discovered it. And I really mean discovered because it was never introduced to me like great music was.
I was digging through my mother’s childhood room when I opened the closet and found a crate full of old records. From the Beatles’ Abbey Road to Blondie’s Eat to the Beat—at the time I had no idea how valuable these records were. I was so excited because this was music I loved and the act of finding a way to play these was exciting! I felt like I had stumbled upon a piece of family history. What a story these records had.