Getting into the vinyl groove

2010-06-07 00:00

“THIS,” Sam, explained as I walked into our lounge, “is our new record player.” Where once there had been a carpet there were now four large dusty boxes and a shame-faced husband.

“While I was buying cheap bulbs,” he continued quickly, “at that second- hand shop, I noticed a pile of records, for only two rand. So I decided to flip through them and there were these amazing albums — Abba, Fleetwood Mac, Al Hirt and The Beatles. So I bought them, thinking a friend could convert them to CD. But he gave me a record player instead. And so ... here it is.”

“Here it sure is,” I said. “So, um, does this mean that the six black bags that we have just decluttered from our study are being replaced by one huge sound system, one bulky record player and a growing number of scratched LPs?”

“Yes,” Sam replied as our two-year-old sang Mamma Mia loudly. “You said the other day that you wanted our kids to grow up on good-quality music, but with the price of CDs, how could we ever afford it? Well, this is how.”

He had a point. I had a soft spot for high-culture and hard bargains, and this record player had rolled them both into one sizeable package. But I also had a soft spot for order and space and I knew that record-buying was an addictive, slippery slope that turned decent family homes into second-hand storage units.

“Okay,” I finally agreed, “but on condition that when this shelf is full of records, then we chuck some away before we buy more. It’s this shelf and no further.” I eyed my family suspiciously as they cheerfully began to unpack the LP’s.

A few days later, my four-year-old son walked past, humming sweetly to himself, “Hey Jo, where you going with that gun in your hand.” He bent over his train track and chugged his trains in time to the beat. “Well I’m going way down south to shoot my old lady down.”

I began rifling through the shelf to find the offending record. “That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I was wishing for good-quality music for my children,” I began to mutter. “That’s not exactly high-class culture. And look at this dust, it’s disgusting,” I thought. “And there are so many of them and they are so scratched, they’re useless to anyone. And .... and .... hey....hey, this is EMI’s 1966 version of Children’s Favourites,” I exclaimed, pulling out an old record. “I remember this from when I was a kid. It’s a classic.” I slipped the LP out of its bright-orange lion cover and placed it onto the turntable — a rich pleasure filled the room.

“Wow, this is good,” I thought. Whoever heard of children’s songs being done to a full orchestra; and being sung by a deep, manly voice, with lyrics that rhymed and rhythmed and themed through your heart. Now this was high-quality music for our children to listen to, this was real culture. Maybe Sam was right, maybe the record player could bring back all that we had lost, at only R2 a shot. “Mom,” my seven-year-old daughter interrupted my reverie, “can I put this children’s music off? I want to listen to the Dave Brubeck Quartet record. It’s actually quite nice.”

I began clearing shelves in our storage cupboard.

Recycling other people’s old records provides new entertainment for a family

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