Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on


Living in future’s past.

My two sons now have iPods. For their birthdays this year they each got one, a Nano for the older boy and a Shuffle for the younger. But, neither have purchased or downloaded any music for themselves and honestly, I’m not even sure if they would know how to. It’s not that I’m controlling their music, but it seems neither wants to be bothered…they just want to listen. So each is stocked with what’s been chart popular the past few years and I leave it at that.

It got me thinking about when I was their ages, 11 and 9 respectively, and how I listened to music. I’m pretty sure at that age I was still listening to the AM Radio (WABC most likely when it was top 40 and not talk) but I also had already purchased a fair amount of music.

I remember trips to department stores like Two Guys, Caldor and Woolworths, where I would go to the music department and spent what little money I had on 45s. Back in the day, stores usually had a spot where the top 100 singles usually resided and I would grab whatever I could afford. Just recently I found a box of these singles and had to laugh at some of what I bought at the time: “Undercover Angel,” “Can’t Smile Without You,” “Laughter In The Rain.” It’s probably not as funny that I have all of those guilty pleasures in my MP3 collection. I actually was starting to sweat thinking that I would come across “Afternoon Delight” or “Muskrat Love.”

I wanted to hear some songs so badly that I would sit and wait next to the radio with a cassette recorder, ready to pounce and when all was done, listen to this gloriously lo-fi copy. I wish I still had those tapes of the times when I was recording “Come Sail Away” and the dog would bark or “Sweet Talking Woman” and my Mother would come into my room and start yapping away about homework. I eventually learned to start recording songs when Casey Kasem would count down the hits every week, where at least finding songs were a little more predictable. Now, perfect copies of just about any song are a simple Google search away.

I did own a few albums too, most likely K-Tel compilations but I’m pretty sure the first actual slab of vinyl I bought for myself was either “Bat Out Of Hell” or “Kiss Alive.” “Frampton Comes Alive” might have figured in there too. I distinctly remember owning the Beatles “Red” and “Blue” collections on 8-Track. For the time, 45s were still it for me.

As I got older, 45 buying pretty much stopped other than imports I would buy at a place called Sound Exchange in Wayne, NJ. I was always fascinated by the non-album B-sides that were on singles from the UK and Japan. Even then, it wasn’t so much the 7” 45 single I was buying but the 12” Maxi-singles.

Now singles exist in the weird vacuum of i-Tunes, where discovery is made virally by YouTube or the bedded music of video games. My kids could care less about radio or even video channels. Most of their music knowledge comes from Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel (or from myself and what’s played in the car). At no time does either specifically seek something out and I just find that so odd.

I guess thanks to Slacker and XM, I don’t really seek much out myself these days either and have become quite content in living retro-actively. I wonder what my kids then will listen to in 30 years. The mind reels…

  • jb

    Great post. I used to tape songs off the radio, too. Many years ago I found one I made when I was 11, on which I had played DJ–hearing the sound of my high, pre-adolescent voice coming back at me was extraordinary.

    I agree that the Internet has made record-hunting a lot easier, but I’m old-fashioned enough to prefer finding my most-wanted records “in the wild.” And I’ll bet I’m not the only one.

  • Layla

    I miss those old days of 45’s and wish I still had all mine! But, now I have my iPod fully loaded….I LOVE being able to take my music with me everywhere….

  • Alan O’Day

    G-Mail flagged me that you had mentioned my hit as an artist & writer, “Undercover Angel”. I’m glad my song was part of your collection, & I can relate to your nostalgia about taping songs & buying 45s. I’ve kept all mine, 33s too, & digitized many to my iPod, so I can still hear the delicious vinyl noises along with Little Richard, Patience & Prudence, Etta James, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry… Damn, I’m old!
    Alan O’Day

  • addictedtovinyl

    I've been discussing this a lot with friends lately. I used to make those “DJ” tapes playing radio, and man, I wish I had even one of those cassettes today.

    So much fun.

  • Matt

    I've been discussing this a lot with friends lately. I used to make those “DJ” tapes playing radio, and man, I wish I had even one of those cassettes today.

    So much fun.

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