Warning: this may contain traces of someone talking about vinyl. May cause eyerolling if dose is exceeded. We got a record player. So for the first time in maybe 15 years, I’m playing records. It’s all starting to come back to me.
Like the cost! There are some records from the early 80s with price stickers still on and they cost a fine fat figure of £3.99. To put that in perspective, in 1984 you could have got married for £3.99. The old motor skills start to kick in.
Slipping the record out of the sleeve. Holding it correctly, lining it up with the spindle. There is a slight tension with starting a record. Lining up the needle correctly. You don’t want to make a mistake with parallax and have the needle slide down the side of the record.
A sort of sickening feeling, like when you send a bowling ball down the gulley. Likewise you don’t want to overcompensate and come down in the middle of the first song because everyone at the dinner party will laugh at you in their polo necks.
But if you get it right, there’ll be a fraction of a second of a glide and a crackle and then the song will start. It’s mad to think that with music stored in the cloud the skills of taking/ replacing discs, tapes and discs in and out of boxes and sleeves could be lost.
Without these skills our children face an uncertain past. Maybe we need to have urban foraging courses where children are brought around town looking at records and relearn other skills: kicking plastic bottles along the road, leaning against walls, travelling in the boot of a Corolla or vandalising specially set up phone boxes while being shouted at by Bob Geldof.
Then there is the wonderful lack of choice and reduced control that the record player gives you. Our lives have been more and more convenient and we’re not any happier. So take the chance to remove choice from your life wherever you don’t need it.
You put on the record and leave it alone. I’m not Grandmaster Flash or indeed any of the Furious Five. I’m not going to be hunched over the turntable and another turntable listening for the exact moment to drop a sick beat.
I put the record on and that’s kind of it for the next 22 minutes or so. I could skip tracks but it’sso much effort. Even the skips and bumps are features in themselves.
If the record gets stuck, simply lifting the needle and dropping it again might take me past it. And dropping it again might take me past it. And dropping it again might take me past it.
And even the fact that I know roughly how a record player works is comforting. It’s reassuringly mechanical. The record has grooves on it.
The needle moves up and down. As it moves up and down it pushes and pulls on a thing called a piezoelectric crystal which produces little bits of current and somewhere in the bowels of the record player it turns
that electricity into sound.
Piezo electricity was discovered by Marie Curie’s future husband Pierre and his older brother. This is a tale as old as time: two lads messing around with records in their room and then one of them meets a girl and they form a nuclear family.
Spotify, on the other hand, is up in the cloud or Silicon Valley somewhere, and when you want a song and it goes through space and comes down via tiny devils who don’t pay any tax and are watching you through the baby monitor and collecting enough data to be able to scare you into voting for racists. I haven’t a hope of making a record player, but I feel like MacGyver could.
I don’t think MacGyver could make a Spotify playlist.
That’s all I’m allowing myself to talk about vinyl.
Any more lyricising about wax and I start to sound like broken recccc…