Do you remember the first vinyl record album you bought? Was that in the 1950s, or ’60s … or last year?
Vinyl is another of those wonderful relics from mid-century America that kids (meaning teens and 20-somethings) today are rediscovering. Polaroid cameras are another.
The cool kids are learning that their parents aren’t so square after all. Dude, they’ve got vinyl! Teens as young as 14 are asking for record players for their birthday.
Moms and dads across the nation are becoming diligent about tracking their offsprings’ habits when it comes to their treasured vinyl: “Young man, just where do you think you are going with my Fleetwood Mac albums?”
Sarah Metzger, a freshman at College of Charleston and a friend of my son Chandler, told me her dad kept an eye out for his albums while she was packing for her first semester a few weeks ago. “He said, ‘You are not taking that record out of the house, you know.’ I had to promise I wouldn’t,” she said.
It was Sarah who introduced Chandler and me to her favorite record store, The Vinyl Countdown on King Street in Charleston. I lost myself lost in a cloud of teenage memories for about an hour there.
I’m sure strangers in the store got tired of hearing me exclaim, “Hey, I had this one!” Chicago, Black Sabbath, J. Geils Band, Neil Diamond, Doobie Brothers, Kenny Rogers … Yes, I had eclectic tastes.
Chandler bought his first vinyl there – a boxed set of Beethoven’s greatest hits, Fur Elise and Concerto No. 5 among them. It was $5.
Our favorite island coffee shop, Maywood Davis on Hwy. 278, has a vinyl collection and a record player, and guests are welcome to choose something to play while sipping their beverages. Johnny Cash is a customer favorite. If you can’t find something to your liking, browse the 8-tracks. There’s a player for those too.
I polled some friends about what makes vinyl so cool, and asked how many albums they had or have. I was surprised by how many of my contemporaries still have their hundreds of records, mostly 33s, but some 45s as well.
Mike Taylor, a D.J. by trade, showed a photo of part of his collection. I guessed he had at least 1,000 albums. He said he has six times what was in the picture.
Cathy Wood sent a photo of her shelving system where she houses an impressive collection of albums. She plays them fairly often, she said.
Becoming an empty nester has given Cris Steele an opportunity to rediscover with her husband the magic of vinyl from the ’60s and ’70s. They set up the stereo and enjoy their “old” music often.
Local potter Tim Holsinger, who said he loved the artwork covers, said he had “hundreds,” and gradually sold them over the years.
Who knew? And why is vinyl so cool? Answers were varied, but similar at the same time. Vinyl is classic. The sound is rich and warm, the popping and skipping somehow comforting. The art of the album covers is often impressive, and liner notes got many kudos.
Chandler summed it up well: “Listening to vinyl is like reading a real book. It might be easier to have it on an electronic device, but it’s part of the experience to notice the album cover, hold the vinyl in your hands, put it on a record player and listen to it that way. Vinyl is authentic.”
Out of the mouths of babes.