On the eve of this weekend’s Record Store Day, where hundreds of thousands of music fans turn out to purchase hard to find and collectible vinyl, I’m reminded of how I got started on my own record collection and the records that mean the most to me. As I sit here typing this while listening to a copy of Night Ranger’s debut album “Dawn Patrol,” I think back to when it all began for me.
I remember as a kid one of my earliest childhood memories was my dad teaching me how to turn over records and set the arm to his turntable that we had in our family living room. We used to live off the Tippecanoe River, and my dad liked to sit out on the patio in the summertime and relax and listen to his records. He had a set of speakers he mounted to the siding of our house and when the record stopped he’d call into the house by my full name, “Christopher!” So I had to get up and change the record over. My dad especially loved the first Dire Straits album, Pink Floyd’s “Meddle,” and Yes’ “Fragile.” Those are some of my earliest memories I have with vinyl records.
There is just something about vinyl that makes it so cool. I would have to say that for me, it’s the primal nature of it. When you take the record out of the sleeve, place it down on the turntable and put the needle down on the record it feels like something coming alive. The music and sounds seem to come out at you from the speakers. This is something that in the time of digital downloads we have lost a little bit of. You don’t really feel the intimacy of listening to a record anymore and also having it in your hands and looking at the artwork and reading the record notes.
From about the time I turned 14, my musical interests took on a life of their own. By that time I was playing guitar and was enthralled by the music of Van Halen. I remember one of the first vinyl records I ever purchased was Van Halen’s “Diver Down” at a second hand store for a $1.50. It was by no means a classic record of theirs, but it kick-started my obsession with collecting my favorite bands records. I was obsessed with getting my favorite band’s records but only if they were the original ones and not the reissues.
Some of the original copies on vinyl that I am glad to own are The Beatles Sgt. Peppers, AC/DC Back in Black. Every original copy of Led Zeppelin’s albums, and Metallica’s first record, “Kill ‘Em All,” originally released on John Zazula’s independent Megaforce Records label. This is just a small selection of great vinyl I own, and whenever I can get the chance I still am look for vinyl that catches my eye. For those of you who haven’t gone to a Record Store Day, you owe it to yourselves to check it out. Maybe you’ll find something that turns you on to a style of music or a way of listening to it that you never had before.