Blood on the Tracks

In the days of vinyl, listening to music was like a ritual.

You would carefully remove the record from the album jacket, slide it out of the paper sleeve, and gently place it on the turntable. Maybe you would first clean the album with your Discwasher. Then the needle would touch down with that distinctive thump and you were off. It was like the Catholic mass, except with a giant black communion wafer.

When someone messes with your rituals, it’s disturbing.

I glanced in a box of albums at my son’s college apartment and noticed a stack of naked albums –and right in the middle, sticking out like a sore thumb, my yellow vinyl copy of The Ramones Road to Ruin. WTF!? That’s enough to make you go mental.

“Hey, you can’t just leave those out sitting around like that!”


“These are fragile. You’ve got to put them away after playing them — not just throw them into the box.”

He roughly handed me a copy of the first Violent Femmes album. “And ONLY handle them by the edges!”


Relax! This clearly wasn’t going anywhere.

No, I wasn’t as obsessive about records as some people. Sure, my albums each had their own plastic sleeve to protect them — and the discs themselves are ALWAYS stored in travel position (see diagram) so they won’t come rolling out on their own. And who would ever lend albums to people who were careless and clumsy — or to those known to have sh*t turntables?

After about fifteen minutes of work, everything was mostly put back in order, the albums in their jackets, the odd stuff that didn’t belong to me discarded. Marshall Tucker Band? Please.

My son watched all this with an amused look on his face.

“How long have these been sitting in the basement? Doesn’t it make you feel good that we were enjoying them?”

That shut me up.  There’s a fine line between priceless memories and useless junk.

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