Everything Old is New Again

A couple of years ago, I got it into my head that I wanted a turntable. After watching an episode of That 70s Show and hearing Red talk about the hi-fi, I got caught up in the memories of my teenage years when I spent countless hours lying on my bedroom floor listening to albums.

As much as I loved my albums, I did what many of us did - graduated with the times and the technology. I traded in my turntable and vinyl for a walkman and cassette tapes, then a boombox and cd's, then an iPod, and finally for the convenience and flexibility of digital downloads and streaming services.

One night, while listening to random selections on Pandora, Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meatloaf came on. Not only was that one of my all-time favorite songs, but it was on my all-time favorite album, Bat Out of Hell. Oh, how I adored Meatloaf. His songs were not just songs, but fully evolved stories of love and longing and rebellion. I listened to that album until the grooves wore out and then bought another one.

I hadn't listened to Meatloaf in; I don't know how many years, when Pandora brought it back into my life. Although I still loved it, it didn't sound the same, and I couldn't figure out why. Suddenly, about 4 1/2 minutes into it (on the album, Paradise by the Dashboard Light is 8 minutes and 28 seconds long!), it dawned on me. It was too perfect, too clean. It was the scratchiness and the distinct turntable pops I was missing. It's like it had been sanitized. Scrubbed clean for a new generation who prized the crisp pure sound of digital music. It nearly ruined a beloved artist for me.

I slogged through the next few days lamenting the seeming loss of this very special part of my life and muttering things like, "Newer wasn't always better people!" I had not thought about albums or turntables or records for twenty years but suddenly, I was grief-stricken by the loss.

To soothe my aching soul, I took a trip to 2nd and Charles, a used book store chain that had just opened up in my town. Walking through stacks of books always lightened my spirit. I opened the door, and the first thing I saw was crates upon crates of used albums! I decided right there and then, I was going to have a record collection again. It turns out vinyl never really went away and it's enjoying a renewed interest by the "younger" generations.

I bought five albums and a record player, and it was one of the best decisions I've made. Not only do I get to listen to all of the music I loved when I was younger with all the marvelous sound quirks that only listening to music on vinyl can bring;, but shopping for albums is an experience that I treasure. For me, the discovery is magical. Whether I find an album that I loved when I was younger - The Grateful Dead, James Taylor, or Tammy Wynette - or I come across a new favorite - Lady Gaga, Adele, or Hozier - I always feel like I just hit the jackpot.

In the spirit of discovery, I try to never leave the store without buying an album recorded by an artist that I've never heard of before. In used stores, I can typically pick these up for a dollar or two. Some of these I love and have quickly become favorites, and some I didn't like at all, and I sell them back on my next visit.

My husband and my sons love this new hobby of mine as well because it gives them an instant Christmas/Birthday/Mother's Day gift idea. Since I'm open to nearly all genres and artists, they feel comfortable picking up random albums. It's a win-win and whether it's vinyl records or antique jewelry or vintage postcards, I highly recommend indulging a new "collection". The joy it brings is priceless.

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