When I was eventually given my own little record player in my own little room at the age of 7 and 8, I moved onto 45s of ABBA and Shaun Cassidy.
Then on my 10th birthday, my eldest brother introduced me to the rock band Styx and gifted me the album Paradise Theatre. The following birthday brought me Men at Work's Cargo from Henry and Jeremy, two school chums who had a taste for pop culture and enjoyed imitating the Blue Brothers. And the first LP I bought for myself was Duran Duran's Seven and the Ragged Tiger which subsequently lead me to buy every album they ever made along with every poster, pin, and magazine cover that had their picture on it. Oh how I loved Simon Le Bon!
Some of my best memories are the hours I spent listening to LPs on my dad's Teac Technics Analog Turntable. I loved the tactile sensation of pawing through the A thru Z in the Rock or New Wave sections at the local record store, carrying my obvious purchase home on the bus, peeling off the plastic seal the moment I got through my front door, pulling the record out of the cover, smelling the vinyl and paper, removing the sleeve that hopefully had the lyrics on it so I could study it and sing along, and staring at the cover art. The close-up of skin and water on Hall & Oates H20. Van Gogh's Starry Night on the bottom of Cyndi Lauper's shoes on She's So Unusual. Tina Turner's legs on Private Dancer. Billy Idol's blonde spiky hair and snarl on Rebel Yell. Michael Jackson in a white suit with a black face and a baby tiger on Thriller. These images along with so many others during those impressionable teenage years are seared into my memory banks.
Nowadays, most of my music is either in the form of a CD or an MP3 file. I own tons of music in which I have never seen one lyric, song credit or cover art photo. But a recent move found me in a larger space and finally the room to pull out all my old albums and take them for a spin. My home CD player is a jukebox that holds 200 CDs. My Ipod holds thousands of songs. My laptop holds thousands more. And yet all that convenience cannot replace the active participation of having to turn the record over from Side A to Side B because there are only 4 or 5 songs per side. I cannot simply hit the play button and walk away, my record player keeps me engaged in my music experience. Much like a book.
My album collection is not big. Only 200. I don't think I want to venture into the DJ/High Fidelity realm of thousands of albums catalogued by year and genre. But now that I've blown the dust off a few, I'm feeling the need to fill in some of the gaps, own the music I wasn't aware of before my tastes evolved, own the music that defined a simpler time in my life and a way of thinking and feeling about things that was slower, kinder and more thoughtful. A time when I took the time to listen to the music. And what better time than the summertime.