Scott Miller:
The TVD First Date

I am a Virginian. You know the joke about Virginians?

“How many Virginians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Five: one to screw it in and four to sit around and talk about how good the old one was.”

That’s pretty much straight on. So when people talk about the new craze over vinyl, it always makes me sad. Sad that in the previous years when EVERYBODY was going crazy about compact discs, the sound quality, the ease and the ever increasing sample rate of ones and zeroes, I was sitting crossed legged in my basement among my vast collection of manual typewriters holding a gate fold like the Madonna held the baby Jesus. (No, not that Madonna, dumb ass, the real one…). And now, here I am, where I always have been and here you (the public) are: right back with me. It seems I can’t shake you.

My basement kicks ass. It’s walled with aged knotty (naughty) pine that acts like the sound box of a good guitar when I play my stereo, ESPECIALLY vinyl. Add a little “Vitamin M” and you’ve got yourself one groovy evening if you have the right company. (That would be two rescue hounds in my case.) They’ve heard all my albums, and they’ve heard my favorite ones so many times that they don’t even raise a hound’s ear to it anymore: “Oh, it’s that Neil Young record again. Jeebus, how many times do we have to listen to “See the Sky About to Rain” ? And that smoke smells familiar too…think I’ll fall back asleep and dream of rabbits.”

My wife’s parents moved in with us for a while when her dad was sick. We fixed up the basement so we could accommodate the visiting hordes of West by God Virginians living with us during that time. I had to take a sample of the pine wood to the paint store to try and match the stain where we put in new windows; the old guy behind the counter said ” Yeah, I can match that—just give me 20 years of cigar smoke.” Anyway, my basement kicks ass. A perfect home for my vinyl.

Scott Miller – Lo Siento Spanishburg WVa

My brother is the one that taught me how to take care of my records. Well, really HIS records since that’s what I listened to mostly. He was very instructive. If he came home and saw any finger prints on the tracks of, say for instance Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Pronounced..” he would beat the shit out of me. I learned pretty quick how to make the span with my thumb on the hole to the outside edge reach.

He still keeps his in immaculate alphabetical order. I keep mine in order of importance/frequency of listening. For instance, Jerry Lee Lewis’ ” Touching Home” is right within a quick grab, but Bread’s “Greatest Hits” is buried. There is some satisfaction in the hunt and listen when I’ve decided I just HAVE to hear “Mother Freedom” though.

I know a guy here in Knoxville that keeps his vinyl in the original plastic AND the receipt from the store! Anyone else remember when records went from $2.99 to $4.99? Now THAT was an energy crunch, kids. Bob Terry can pull the album to show you the exact date. Anyway, you gotta take care of your albums, or my brother will frog punch you repeatedly.

Okay, now I’m just sounding old and cranky. I’ve got the rest of my life to play that angle. Let’s not rush into it. My point is, listening to vinyl records was about when and where. Sure, they made portable record players, but that really didn’t work on the beach or in your car. (Unless you had the “moon rock” needle a la Steve Martin). It was in a designated spot with your stereo and ( the bigger the better) speakers. It made listening to music an EVENT.

Can’t go see Willie Nelson? Drop a needle on “Willie and the Family Live” and prop your feet up. (Honestly, I think he still does the same set list…) So while I haven’t hung with the hip in-crowds listening to vinyl records now, I hope that one of the by products of its comeback is this: a gathering of people getting hungry and scared and letting themselves be transported somewhere 17 minutes a side….

Rock on. Its a big, big world.

—Scott Miller

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  • VA-via-Knox

    That’s about the most real account of music listening I’ve ever heard.  Mr. Miller, you just told my story ad probably that of a million others!  Thank you, sir.


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