I’ve always found something peaceful in listening to an album from start to finish. Not having much access to television in junior high and high school, I would often sit on my floor and listen to an entire album while drawing or writing. I love being immersed in the story–even if it’s not a concept album, every song has a part of the artist’s story and, inevitably, your own.
When I was a teenager I just loved anything ‘retro’…mostly from the 1960s-1970s. I sat in the library and read an entire encyclopedia series dedicated to this time period. I found photos that I liked in it and photocopied them. Even in fifth grade, I found myself fixated on it. We had to write a story based on a certain time period. When I told the teacher I wanted to write a story set in 1969, he was not keen on it. I have a vivid memory of this teacher looking at me hesitantly, as if trying to figure out how to say the following gently, and then he just said “A lot of bad stuff happened then, like drugs and war” and that was that. I wrote my story about Sojourner Truth (and if you don’t know who that is, please look her up! She was pretty amazing).
My bedroom walls looked like a terrible collage (sorry, mom!) during this time. Photos of friends, paintings I had done, and the random ‘retro’ stuff I had accumulated.
One of these prized possessions was a record I had found in a thrift shop. It was a sort of ‘best of’ the decade compilation, and spanned the late 1960s and early 1970s, including The Association’s “Never My Love” and Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold”. I knew and loved the songs but couldn’t listen to the album. The bright orange album hung on my wall like a little sun with bubble letters on it.
One summer break from college, I was bringing items to the transfer station (dump) in town and saw a box of records. Though it looked like a pile of Christmas albums, I decided to look through anyway. Low and behold, one of my favorite albums of all time lay at the bottom-The Police’s Synchronicity. I hung it in my dorm when I returned for the semester and soon found a copy of my other favorite album, Rush’s Moving Pictures at a record shop near Berklee College.
Both of these records eventually ended up in album frames, and I had never listened to them. Until recently.
The turntable at my parent’s house had been sitting under one of the beds and needed a little fixing up. Finally, my sister and I decided to do so, with some help of one of our friends.
Sure, it’s a different sound, and I can’t explain why it makes me so happy! I’m guessing since it is a ‘retro’, preserved version of something I hold dear to my heart-music and these specific albums and songs-that makes it so wonderful.
My friend’s mom recently gave me a bunch of her old records. One, John Lennon’s Imagine, still had a poster folding up inside of it, never used. I feel like I came across a treasure chest! And being able to listen to those records that I had framed-finally-was like finally getting a secret password.
I’m basically in a safer version of the Cave of Wonders. Maybe?
I think it’s similar to finding something enthralling in the photos I found in those 1960s/1970s encyclopedias. Sometimes I feel like I am cheating with my digital camera, and I don’t find the same magic in listening to the squashiness of an MP3, either. Though, good golly gosh, I am okay with recording with a modern DAW, doing post production with Final Cut, etc.
What is the charm with ‘retro’ and vintage items? Do you collect anything like this? Why did you start?