In my house, music is always playing. It is not uncommon to wake up to the sound of Journey, Tom Petty, or Van Halen. Likewise, no car ride is complete without the classics. At age 10, I could sing every word to nearly every song by Kiss. For me, music has always played a large role in my life. I am a firm believer that music makes the hard times easier and the good times better.
About five years ago, my dad received a record player from a friend. She had originally ordered the light brown, box-shaped Crosley for her son, but the company sent her two. When she attempted to return the second, they told her just to keep it. Therefore, she gifted the record player to my dad. Because my dad had no time to actually put it to good use, the record player collected dust in our spare room for a few months before I happened upon it and claimed it as my own.
After my parents showed me the correct way to spin a record and place the needle, I took my dad’s record collection from the top shelf of the hall closet. We rummaged through his crate of albums that have stood the test of time, showing their age in their slightly worn covers. I was in awe as I picked up some of my personal favorites, such as Bob Seger’s “Beautiful Loser” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours.”
However, my most favorite, which remains one of my most prized possessions today, is The Beatles “Abbey Road.” My dad recalled when he bought these priceless albums, and how much they were worth at the time. He smiled as he remembered listening to them with his brother, and having posters hung in his room of his favorite artists, most of whom were found in this crate.
My mother also reminisced on her childhood and her favorite albums, wishing she still had them. She remembered the first time hearing some of her favorite songs, and the joy of spinning them on her own record player as a teenager. She recalled differing music tastes between her and her sisters, and laughed at the memories of dancing around her room with friends to their favorite songs as the albums spun.
Once I obtained the Crosley, my favorite hobby became searching for records at antique shops. Specifically, there was an elderly vendor named Mr. Jim at an antique shop in Byhalia, Mississippi who collected and sold vintage records. I purchased countless records from him that remain valuable to me, including many Elvis Christmas albums, Aerosmith “Toys in the Attic,” and the first I bought from him, The Beach Boys “Little Deuce Coupe.” Though I never actually met Mr. Jim in person, it was as if we were connected through these beautiful pieces of vinyl.
Similarly, my record player has connected me in unique ways with numerous people of all ages. With records and record players becoming a trend again, people my age have become interested in them. One of my closest friends and I met and bonded over our love of music, and he was intrigued by my record collection. I recall his first time coming to my house; he instantly asked to see my record player and requested we spin “Abbey Road.”
Adults who grew up listening to records especially find my record player and genuine adoration fascinating. I absolutely love when they tell me their personal stories of when they received their first record players, their favorite albums, and the concerts they have attended.
Just recently, the father of children I babysit and I had a long discussion about our favorite bands, and realized we had the same taste in music. He gave me two of his personal favorite records from when he was younger – The Beatles “White Album” and Led Zeppelin “III.” I treasure those two albums so dearly, and spin them every time I visit home.
For birthdays and Christmas, my family often gives me records. Two years ago, I received one of my most favorite vinyls for Christmas, Red Hot Chili Peppers “Californication.” It was also one Christmas that I received a stand for my record player that would hold all of my albums. Before receiving the stand, I had to make do by setting it on a chair. My aunt frequently hunts for antique albums I may not already own and gifts them to me. In this way, the records have created new bonds in my family.
Every time I place the needle on a record someone has given me, I think back to receiving it and who gave it to me. Certain songs or albums even paint specific images of memories for me as they play. For instance, every time I play Culture Club’s album “Colour by Numbers,” I recall singing “Karma Chameleon” with my mother on a cool autumn day as the song played throughout the house. When I play a Christmas album from Andy Williams or Bing Crosby, I am taken to the living room on a cold winter day, with Christmas lights from the tree lighting up the entire room.
With the return of vinyl as a trend, records can be found in numerous contemporary shops. I love flipping through large collections of albums and noting which ones I still need to add to my personal collection. There is even a shop dedicated to vinyl records on the Square in Oxford, and walking through it is almost therapeutic. Though playing music through phones, iPads, and other devices may be more convenient, there is nothing that compares to the beautiful crackle of vinyl.