Thursday, August 20, 2009

TVD Recommends | That Summertime Sound by Matthew Specktor

Do you recall that feeling when, in the middle of reading a particular book, you simply don’t want it to end? You linger, taking your time, putting off that very last page. That’s where I am right now with Matthew Specktor’s joyous ‘That Summertime Sound.’ I mean, I’ll get to the ending—I’m just in no rush.

Others have finished the book, however:

"Matthew Specktor’s beautiful and arresting first book, That Summertime Sound, chronicles a different sort of ’tween experience—the obsessive desires and frustrations of a young man caught in the time warp between adolescence and adulthood in the ’80s. Specktor, an L.A. native who has worked for years in film development, has a crisp, evocative style that captures both the nuances of a particular time and the universal themes of any insightful coming-of-age story. We’ve all been there."
—L.A. Times

“A rock ‘n’ roll road trip that’s also a page-turner.”
—Nylon Mag

For us, Specktor’s waxed nostalgic - about wax:

"I don’t believe in fetishizing formats. Vinyl, cassette, MP3, CD. Same thing with books: the scent and texture of certain kinds of paper can almost make me faint with happiness, but the important thing is the text. How it gets to you is much less important.

That said, records make me happy. Their vulnerability makes me so, their limitation. Forty minutes, twenty per side, their chipping, their popping, the way their sleeves wear and erode and start to show the shapes, the scuffed corona of the record inside. I dig frailty. It’s not nostalgia that makes me respond to vinyl, it’s mortality and specificity. I put a record on the turntable, I listen harder, I commit a little bit more than I do to digital formats. The question isn’t whether in collecting records, the music thus “belongs to me.” It’s the opposite: with a record, I belong that little bit more to it.

The PVC edition of Big Star’s 'Sister Lovers.' Finding a mint copy of the Flamin’ Groovies 'Shake Some Action' for three bucks in a Massachusetts basement, after I’d been searching for it for years. The place down the street from an old girlfriend’s house in San Francisco, an unmarked storefront where I could get old Blue Note records for a buck or two a piece: Andrew Hill, Dexter Gordon. I talk about this stuff and the default becomes nostalgia, but really I’m thinking about the unpredictability, the pleasures of the search. These days, anyone with an internet connection can find things in five minutes, Velvet Underground recordings that wouldn’t have even been rumors twenty years ago. And that’s fantastic. Anything that smashes the kind of elitism that (used to?) cluster around record collecting is good, and music is pointless if it isn’t heard. But something does get lost, without that kind of anticipation that still surrounds shaking a record out of its sleeve for me. I still get excited, in ways I don’t by just pushing a button. Something I do more often these days.

Once, in the very early nineties, I was in a thrift store with a friend. We were looking at other things—housewares, or pulp paperbacks—and he caught my arm. Close your eyes, he said. We were right by the old vinyl section, and this was the dawn of the CD era. We’d go into Amoeba Music in Berkeley and hear the ugly clatter of plastic CD cases whacking against each other as people went through them. So I knew what he meant: he was pointing out that softer sound of cardboard sleeves being sifted in bins. Whup-whup-whup. We went outside and my friend said, That sound is growing extinct. Thank God, it isn’t yet. You just have to listen harder to hear it. You go to the right places, you close your eyes. It’s just as vivid as it ever was."

From 'That Summertime Sound'...
Morgan Freeman reads "This is Never Going to End" (Mp3)
Jeremy Irons reads "The Devil in It Somewhere" (Mp3)

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