“At the tender ages of 2, 3, 4, and upwards my brothers and I would hang out (i.e. “play”) for hours on end centered around our tan and brown, plastic Fisher Price turntable, listening to kids classics such as Mickey Mouse Disco, The Baby Sitters’ Family Album (featuring Alan Arkin and Lee Hays of The Weavers), and the still legendary Free to Be You and Me by Marlo Thomas and Friends.
By the time I was in middle school (which was right around the time I started developing a personal taste for things I wanted to listen to, and the first time I started actually buying my own records) cassettes were being phased out into CDs and, alas, my regular listening relationship with vinyl would take a couple decade long hiatus.
But I never forgot that beautiful, tactile, physical, analog experience of the hands’ relationship to the platter, the player, and the resultant sound, which was so seminal to my early childhood fun (and very likely to my enduring love of music and listening, as well as quite probably to my absolute dedication to the full album format.)
So, because I’m generally lazy with these kinds of things and wait until culture makes it easy for me, when vinyl started popping up everywhere however many years back, I became hugely excited at the thought of once again being able to “put on” records, and started buying up discs here and there, as I’d come across them, well before I dealt with the inevitability of finding myself a decent player (again, my laziness took over here and it was another few years.) Before long I found I was sort of “curating” a small collection, and kind of pleasantly noticed that the types of albums I was getting, in anticipation of listening at home in a very particular setting, were of a slightly different variety than what I generally listen to on my ipod, which is more often than not when I’m walking and making my way around New York City and elsewhere.
Of course there were a few staples: Astral Weeks, Harvest, Some Girls, Bitches Brew, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, The Wall, and a number of others. But I also found myself seeking out and becoming interested in a few things that I might not otherwise have gotten into, which have given me hours upon hours of listening joy since: records like Harry Nilsson’s Nilsson Schmilsson, a Charles Bukowski live poetry reading disc called Hostage, Ray LaMontagne’s Gossip in the Grain, and Scott Walker’s Scott, 3, Scott 4, and Tilt.
And the absolute pinnacle of vinyl listening for me this last year has been Kiss Each Other Clean by Iron & Wine, which I came across just browsing in a vinyl bin downtown, knew I liked the artist, and dug the cover. Turns out this record sounds to me unlike anything the guy’s ever done before, an artistically beautiful and big step in a new direction, and my very favorite thing he’s ever put out (among what I think was already a brilliant body of work.) And, for me, it will forever be entwined with the special connotation of listening at home on my beautiful Pro-Ject Debut III.
On an interesting side note (to me, anyway) I was recently looking at the cover of my prized Beatles 1967-1970 (“The Blue Album”) record, which was one of the very few rock records my parents owned, along with its companion 1962-1966 (“The Red Album”), the covers of which I remember being mesmerized by as a child, and figuring out that it was the same four guys, in the same setting, at different times, and what a weird and cool concept that was/is. And it kind of dawned on me that this might very well have something to do with the album covers of my Long Lost Story double album project (the second of which is yet unreleased, but is going to show me in the same position as on the first one but at a different age).
I also have to give a nod to my buddy Bob Abramson at Manhattan’s House of Oldies, who is an all around great and funny guy, an absolute encyclopedia of record knowledge, tells great stories about meeting Elvis and when John Lennon used to come into the shop and things like that, and only carries wonderful, top condition records that are an absolute joy and pleasure to play and listen to.
And so there it is, a smattering of my love for this beautiful and enduring format of sound.”