Friday, May 18, 2007

Put Your Records On

If you were to walk into my apartment...well, it's highly unlikely that you actually would walk into my apartment, because I seem to suffer from some un-named phobia as regards visitors to my private domain, and the fact that I am somewhat less than house-proud. In fact, I wouldn't allow Tim into my apartment for the first four months we dated. He actually waited until I was home and ill before showing up at my door with dinner from Balducci's. I told him to go away, but he used that tone of voice that makes me do just about anything, and I buzzed him up against my better judgement. Later that same month, he announced that he would have to stay with me for an entire weekend, as the PATH trains were to be out of service. Years later, he admitted that he'd completely fabricated that story, but he did spend the weekend with me, and we've been doing it ever since, with minor variations. Those who do forge ahead and gain entrance have compared my abode to an "Aladdin's Cave", or a "jewel in the rough". Very rough, I might add. I think I must suffer from some variation of Collier Brothers-type OCD. Tim just thinks I'm totally detached, and don't care. Both of us may be correct in our diagnosis.

But I digress.

If you were to walk into my apartment, you'd be immediately confronted with a seven foot tall record cabinet, filled to overflowing. If you were to take a left, you'd encounter another storage unit, not quite as tall, but equally as full. Making the final right into my Living Room you'll pass the Mission Oak upright piano. Stop to admire the many framed photographs of the two of us strewn across the top and then cast your eyes upon the third and final bank of LPs. Previously, if you continued on to the bedroom, you'd need to fight your way past racks of Cd's stretching towards the ceiling, as well as errant stacks and piles, placed like so many land mines, atop the speakers and turntable. One false move could and often did cause an avalanche of plastic jewel boxes.

The house I grew up in had a minimal hoard of recorded music; mostly my parent's distinctly different collections of 78's and a handful of seminal rock and roll 45's purchased in the late Fifties. My sister had a small collection of LPs by such current hit makers as the Beatles, Rascals and Doors, but these were stashed in her room, and I was under strict orders to avoid any contact with them under penalty of death, or at least a severe beating. Since we had nothing to play them on, I would mostly sneak in and study the cover art when she wasn't around.

I received my first two very own albums in 1967, when I was 12, and I was hooked. I had to visit the record department of any department store we visited. As I grew older, I could not pass a record store without entering. This habit stuck with me well into the last decade, when record stores basically disappeared off the face of the earth. I moved out of my mother's house in 1974 with a three enormous cartons of LPs, movable only with the aid of dollies. The boxes ran the full length of the living room wall at my tenement apartment on 6th Street. By the time I moved to 12th Street, the collection threatened to overwhelm the new apartment until I had shelving units made. There the records have remained, alphabetically, ever since.

I remember seeing my first CDs at Tower Records and feeling disdain, thinking here was yet another second rate method of selling recorded music, not unlike the 8-track tapes and cassettes I had little use and no respect for. Over packaged in their long boxes, they yielded little information about the product within, and I felt the reduced size of the album graphics, so much a component of my LP enjoyment, was laughable. I couldn't imagine paying twice the price for music I already owned.

I might have kept that attitude up if I hadn't been gifted with a miniature Sony CD player in the mid-Eighties, along with a $150.00 gift certificate to Tower for my choice of Cd's. I spent a Friday evening shopping, hooked the little beast up, and was instantly hooked myself by the sheer volume and brassiness of the sounds that issued forth.

The Cd's first were stacked on my mantelpiece; that pile grew too big, and begat other stacks and piles, as I assembled a veritable mountain range of music. Soon, even the old turntable was covered with Cd's; rendered inaccessible and all but unusable.

Until last week.

Now that no one buys Cd's and most music seems to be purchased via download, I had a large wall-length cabinet fabricated in which to put all those jewel boxes away. Last Saturday, the clearing process was completed and I spent a lovely afternoon alphabetizing.

Afterwards, harvesting a seed planted by the Farmboyz, I fixed some lovely Manhattans for the two of us: Knob Creek bourbon and some Blood Orange (not peach, but not bad) Bitters, and cranked up the dusty old and newly available turntable. I'd really not heard it yet, in conjunction with the monstrous Nikko amp Tim had gifted me with, and I was excited to haul out a stack of re-inaugural LPs.

As we'd watched the Cockettes documentary that morning, I pulled out the two Sylvester & The Hot Band albums I've had for years. I handed the first one to Tim, asking him to sample the ancient scratch 'n sniff gardenia affixed to it's cover. He grinned, and handed it back. It had still retained it's scent these thirty five years later.

From Sylvester's Bazaar album, I played "My Life" and "She", followed by:

"Gettin' Ready for Love" and "You Got It" from Diana Ross' Baby It's Me album

"Spoiled" and "Main Line" from Ashford & Simpson's I Wanna Be Selfish album

"Aching Kind" and "Trashy Rumors" from Michelle Phillips' Victim of Romance album

"I'm Not In Love" from 10cc's The Original Soundtrack album

"Introduction to the Concert (By The Women's Club President)" by Anna Russell

"Madeline's Theme" by Giorgio Moroder from the Electric Dreams soundtrack

"Nineteen" and "(If You Emptied Out Your Pockets) You Could Not Make The Change" from Maggie & Terre Roche's Seductive Reasoning album

"Love for the Sake of Love" from Claudja Barry's Sweet Dynamite album

"Changin'" from Ms. Sharon Ridley's Full Moon album

"Hold On (To My Love)" from Jimmy Ruffin's album of the same name.

One might say I was reveling in my long ago youthful glory; it's true, I was.

I went out to dinner that night humming, a very happy man.

Next week, we tackle the 45's.


Anonymous rangergeek said...

Your apartment sounds like our house--utterly crammed with music. If there is a shelf or drawer somewhere, you can bet there will be CDs, 45s or 78s piled on top or stuffed inside it. The LPs fill an enire bedroom. No bed, just shelves.

Falling in love with a guy with a great music collection is like falling for a rich guy, I suppose. How do you know if it was real love or if you're just a music golddigger? And how can you separate the man from the music he loves?

12:53 PM  
Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

You and your music sound like fun...
Big love for your blog!

6:00 PM  
Blogger farmboyz said...

Delightful. I know where the box is that contains our turntable, but I am not sure where the box is that contains our LPs or the 45s. That is what retirement will be for: to replay the sounds of one's past, if they can be located and are playable. Can't wait to make Manhattans for you guys using our newly found peach bitters AND the first locally produced NYC rye that C found in Red Hook. Let's pick a date.

6:41 PM  
Blogger jeff anderson said...

I love hearing about folks rediscovering their vinyl. I swear my relationship with LPs is more gratifying than many of my human relationships. I encourage you to check out all the new releases that are on vinyl. Online sites like MusicDirect and Insound are good places to start. I buy most of my new music on vinyl now & can't imagine ever going back exclusively to digital.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

For $200, I just bought an ION USB turntable from Sharper Image. 30 minutes after I opened it, I was loading New Order's Everything's Gone Green EP into my computer. There's something odd hearing every scratch and pop I remember from 1985 on my ipod.

10:57 AM  
Blogger seymour said...

Can you be dj at my wedding? To you.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous mark said...

Being a music lover myself, what I wouldn't give to be able to sit for a day and go through your collection.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Chris Krakora said...

I came across one of those Sylvester and the Hot band albums a few years back. An interesting find indeed--Good to listen to.

7:38 PM  

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