Wednesday, October 13, 2010

TVD First Date | Jukebox the Ghost

Polyvinyl Heart
I have been wondering for well over ten years now why my father hasn't invested in a more structurally sound, or at least a more youthful bookshelf to house his precious record collection that is nearly double my age (I am currently 24 years old) and easily seven times my size.

I'm not boasting - I'm sure your dad was hip too in his day. My point here is really just that the shelves of this bookcase are sinking at the middle. Think about the material value, not to mention the perfectly-aged nostalgia that could be shattered from such faulty shelving in the event of a sudden polyvinyl avalanche! You know, this unassuming piece of furniture has continually made me more nervous, more frightened, than the Fung Wah bus I am writing this from ever has (except for that time one flipped over while my dad was aboard, but that's a story for a different shelf.)

Perhaps there is hidden meaning in these saggy old shelves. They have lost their youth but still remain standing, rather, shelving, to fulfill their duty: To protect the music of decades past and it's cathartic, turbulent, funny, erotic, and revolutionary message and to 'carry that weight a long time'...

Now to bring things up to speed (45 or 33 rpm? I can never remember)... if we want a record today we have a serious decision to make: CD, LP, or Mp3s (the last being the most environmentally friendly and hence preferred method of music listening for ecoterrorists, despite the fact that digital avalanches are the leading annual cause of music loss and pose a far greater threat to music collectors than does the much rarer occurrence of a Polyvinyl Catastrophe (see above.)

Well before I was wearing opaque the once reflective back of Rancid's "...And Out Come The Wolves" or pondering over the context of the word "beaver" in Adam Sandler's "They're All Gonna Laugh At You", there was my dad's red-convertible-mixtape. During a period of my childhood it seemed the only suitable soundtrack for a journey in my father's red Pontiac convertible was his favorite (and my favorite) mixtape - and the stereo blasted and the rooftop remained down despite the drizzle that any traditional parent would take as a clear sign that the interior was going to get soaked or someone was going to catch a cold- but not mine. Was the music our soundtrack and the road our path or was the road our soundtrack and the music our path? Regardless, this mixtape showed me the power of music and if that power alone could sing, it would likely sing the word "freedom" as off-key and as off-time as it felt. And so daddy's random selections sang to me: I'm not a girl but I just want to have fun! I don't know what "sedated" means but I want to be sedated! I can't whistle to save my life but damnit, I want to walk like an Egyptian!

Continuing, I grew up on the Compact Disc. At age nine I bought my first one - Green Day's "Dookie." Offspring's "Smash" and Silverchair's "Frogstomp" followed soon after, though I have no chronology after my first three since my collection boomed skyward thereafter as a result of my brother and myself developing the naughty habit of subscribing to Columbia House (12 records for a buck! What a steal!) and then ignoring the notice that came requiring the purchase of ten records at full price. If my mother hadn't canceled the account within the following year, she probably would have been ten copies of "Tragic Kingdom" richer. Of course, the high school and college years came and with them the technology to copy, burn, and yes, even steal music- the Napster Years. Gradually it became harder and harder to find an original CD among the ocean of sharpied up CD-R's in my and my friends' CD binders. Then came the portable mp3 player, which of course, ushered in the infamous iPod Era (which still exists today, kids.) You bet I have mine. The iPod - it's portable, quick, and won't cause you to run anyone over while changing records in the car (unless you are really indecisive). But what about today's obsession with vinyl?

Well, an explanation for the resurgent popularity in vinyl might vary depending on who you ask but I personally feel like the explanation is quite simple. Music lovers miss the physical experience of music: walking into a record store and not being able to leave without at least three records in your hands, unwrapping, sitting in your room and listening. Maybe doing a few other small tasks, bust mostly just listening. Really listening. Specifically, with listening to vinyl LPs: participating in that generations-old ritual of letting the needle drop, watching, waiting, listening for it to catch. Maybe putting your ear up to the phonograph before even turning up the volume to hear the natural vibrations perform the recorded song for you. No need to mention the inexplicably charming crackles and pops - they speak for themselves.

I have a nice vinyl collection of my own which I started casually accumulating about five years ago. It's nothing like my dad's but it's slowly growing depending on when its humble protector has some money kicking around or discovers an album that's just simply too good for good old digital listening. I probably have about 80-100 LPs, ranging from Salvation Army budget finds (Simon & Garfunkel, Willie Nelson) to to store-bought must-haves (Harry Nilsson, The Smiths), to current and reissue indie classics (Built to Spill, Wilco). My records are here to keep me company and serve me when I need them, and I admit, it feels quite good to have something substantial to look at and flip through after my dubious involvement in the Napster Years and the more innocent iPod Era. There's a real emotional, nostalgic presence to these records that sit upon my recently-bought, youthful-looking bookcase- and although they only occupy one modest shelf, I can't help but smile warmly at the fact that this shelf has already begun to sink at the middle.
—Jesse Kristin, Drums, Jukebox the Ghost

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