Rediscover your record player

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Vinyl is hip again. We have a white Lady Gaga record to prove it. Sean likes to tell people he was hip before hip was hip and he has the record collection to boast without worry. We used to store part of the record collection in our old house on a church pew in the dining room and then on the floor where Aurora made her presence known by crawling over the top of the collection (much to her father’s dismay). Sean would often have the speakers facing out the window, which allowed us to garden while listening but made fixing a skip in the record very frustrating. How many times can you listen to one line from Captin and Tennille without wanting to thwack your own head with the shovel? Not many. 

We have one of those machines that converts your vinyl to digital files, which has greatly enhanced my music selection for modern classes. Across the floor to Tom Jones? Yes. It’s also given us a little piece of mind as our records feel the wear of tear of years of use. We moved this spring and struggled to find a working record player in our collection of old broken ones. We relied on the laptop for our daily dose of music and entertainment, but come Christmastime, we realized that the only way we could play the one-time-a-year record collection was to find a working record player.

Once the machine was running, the “office” became the dancing room, with mom, dad, Aurora and Saul crooning and cruising to John Denver, Bing Crosby, and Joan Baez. The kids would dance and crawl from one room to another and back again as the crinkly, skippy sounds of these old records encouraged their prancing and laughing. Aurora would watch as Sean gently placed the needle down on the record, mesmerized by the gentle spinning and the sound coming from seemingly nowhere.

Gratefully (and wistfully) the holidays have passed but the record player continues its role as a permanent fixture in our daily lives. We have rediscovered our Mary Poppins record, with narration and singing from the original musical that proves yet again to be timeless. It’s easy to imagine my little son and daughter as the mischievous, but well-intentioned kids in the story and even sometimes in my fantasies, myself as Mary and Sean as Bert. My children are also earning an early education in drunk cowboy songs and Aurora has been known to request some old country for her dancing pleasure.

Have you ever watched a child delight in the work and sound of a record player? Have you ever danced with them to its both clean and scratchy sound? Have you ever let them hold the record in their own hands and whispered, “Gentle love, gentle.”  

It’s easy to dock the iPod, press play on the CD player, or stream the radio from your laptop, but there is something special about fuzz you can’t edit out of a fragile record. My CD collection is a testament to my addiction to sound in multiple forms, but I’m grateful for my hip man incorporating vinyl into our every day. My children will always know what a record is and how to play one, but more importantly, how to enjoy that record.