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.

15 thoughts on “Blood on the Tracks

  1. LP’s? are they like giant cd’s Mr. Madeo?Do have a rotary phone too?Of course just the fact that I still use cd’s and can’t download, or upload or burnload or whatever means I ain’t too hip either.Of course vinyl is making a come back.A musician buddy looked into having an album put out on vinyl…surprisingly expensive.

  2. There is nothing like listening to old vinyl records. I love that kind of static sound. Nostalgia I guess. The digitally remastered CDs just don’t cut it when it comes to the older stuff.

  3. See, I know people who do this with the next generation (or the generation after if you count cassettes) – CDs. And it drives me nuts, to the point where I would outright refuse to let people borrow CDs because I knew they would just leave them lying around unprotected and scratched up.

    It being vinyl, I definitely feel your pain. My father had almost the entire Beatles catalogue on Vinyl when I was a kid, and I cherished them. No idea whatever happened to them. sadness.

  4. Ah, yes, the holy Discwasher…with the accompanying sacred cleaning fluid, which was NOT just water.

    I may have pulled a 0.0 my last semester at East Carolina, but 31 years later my vinyl of that era is still absolutely pristine. A man’s gotta have priorities.

  5. There was the holy discwasher yes . . . but also the holy anti-static gun, which also doubled as a sleeping room-mate zapper, for good measure. I loved the diagram of the proper travel position as well . . . all of my records were/are stored that way at all times!

  6. Yep Maria, I too love the crackle and hiss! I just love when my kids ask, “Mom, do we have (insert favorite artist here) on vinyl?”

  7. I confess to being a travel position heretic. I would simply arrange the milk crates with the openings facing each other. Never had an issue with sliding vinyl.

    Does anyone remember the great “belt drive vs direct drive” turntable debates?

  8. Rob & J. Eric, we are men of a certain age. Unfortunately, my record collection has been reduced from a peak of about 1K to, hmmm, maybe 200. Still have first record bought. Still have my DiscWasher. Still have a turntable. All records are stored in travel position – vertically! – which was taught to me by elders. And still have records (some) by locals.
    Cassettes don’t count, except for those mixtapes I made.

  9. Just last night I put Pink Floyd’s Animals on my turntable for the first time in about 15 years. I think we can argue all about the differences in wavelengths, frequencies, warmth of sound, etc. between vinyl and digital all day long. The romance isn’t so much in the sound as it is in the ritual. And what a romance of ritual it is…

  10. Re WastedYears . . . Check This. It’s either a brilliant piece of satire or analysis, I’m not sure which, but it lays out the analog agenda as well as I’ve ever seen it documented. (Note that if you’re easily offended by strong social satire, then I wouldn’t go any deeper into that site than the link posted . . . ). I’m a slave to my iPod and my computer now when it comes to music, and my old vinyl languishes, but I do miss speaker hum and static hiss sometimes . . .

  11. If you’re in to vinyl records then you should know about . Sellers from all over the world list their catalogs there.

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