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For the Love of Vinyl: Part Two

1 Nov

I’ve been spending time listening to my records, as I discussed in Tuesday’s post. It’s so nostalgic, hearing the imperfect playback. Not exactly relaxing, however, not when listening to 45’s that only last for about three minutes.

I had a few old 45’s that were my dad’s. That’s how I learned “Unchained Melody” sung by Les Baxter and accompanied by his orchestra, on a purple, “Capitol Records” label. My sister and I would sing it dramatically to each other, her from her loft in the bedroom we shared, and I on the swing that hung from the rafters in the center of our room. I wish I had a picture of that room; it was so cool.  (By the way, this version I’ve linked is the exact version I have! If you shut your eyes while you listen to it, you can imagine it’s on vinyl. :-))

We even had a National Geographic record. Remember those? They’d be inserted in the magazine and you could tear them out – they were floppy – and then you could listen to real “Sounds of the Space Age”.  Highly educational. I didn’t listen to that one too often.

We found this 45 of The Hobbit a few years ago at a flea market. Had to get it even though we still have the 33 1/3. It’s a perfect example of those Read Aloud records. And how about that National Geographic record? It’s slightly bent and I couldn’t get it to play correctly at all when I tried today!

On Tuesday I mentioned that my kids love to listen to The Rescuers and The Hobbit. Those were my first-ever 33 1/3’s. The Hobbit is “The Complete Original Soundtrack including dialogue, music and songs” from the Rankin/Bass movie production in 1977. And, of course, it has the “special edition book” with it. My husband is phenomenal at knowing lines from movies, but he can’t hold a candle to my ability to quote The Hobbit. (By the way, I have already written “Go see The Hobbit” on December 14th on my calendar. Can’t wait.)

As for The Rescuers, it’s also from 1977, and actually was the first movie I saw in a theater. My sister gave me the “Songs and Dialogue” album for Christmas that year and I loved it. My dad, sadly, did not realize how much I loved it and he got rid of it in one of their cross-the-country-or-world-moves and I was so sad, nevermind that I was in college by then. I told my husband that story years ago and he, bless his heart, went onto E-Bay and bought me the exact same album. How great is he? So, even though it’s not my original album, my kids – and I –can still enjoy it.

A small piece of my childhood.

Occasionally I’d raid Mom and Dad’s 33 1/3 collection of records, but not too often, because all they had was classical. Oh, but he had Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, “Whipped Cream and Other Delights”. Oy, vey, that album cover!

I was a wee bit shocked when I found this in my parent’s record collection, many, many moons ago. Turns out, it was quite the phenomenon!

But my favorite records of my parents’ were The Smothers Brothers. “Curb you tongue, knave!”, “The Two Sides of the Smothers Brothers”, “think ethnic!”, and “…at the Purple Onion” – these are still the stars of my record collection. There weren’t a lot of times I saw my mom wiping her eyes from laughter, but listening to the Smothers Brothers would make her do that. “The Streets of Laredo”, “Chocolate” and “Black is the Colour (of my Love’s True Hair)” – those were probably our favorite cuts from the albums. They were part of our family vocabulary. And – I love this story – it is partly due to The Smothers Brothers that I decided my husband would be a worthy candidate to be my husband. Never, in all my life, had I met anyone who knew who I was talking about if the topic of the Smothers Brothers came up. Then along he came and he knew. It was meant to be.

These are so awesome!

A few years back I found a duplicate album of theirs and bought it because I was into making bowls out of records – you melt them in the oven and have a cute bowl! (Take a look at how to do it! It’s easy!) I thought it would be extra-fun to have a Smothers Brothers bowl to hold candy AND memories. My husband wouldn’t let me melt it. “It’s the Smothers Brothers! That would be sacrilege!” So we have two of that album. Two, nice and flat records.

I made my bowl from an old Amy Grant album. He didn’t care about that one so much.

A little piece of my teen years: made more useful, according to The Sailboat King. It would be perfect in a Rumpus Room. If only I had a Rumpus Room…

I heard the other day that someone was releasing their brand new album on compact disc AND on vinyl. I love that. There’s nothing like having a record on in the background to sooth your soul.

Here’s a sample of The Smothers Brothers from long ago.  Enjoy!

For the Love of Vinyl: Part One

30 Oct

JUST WANT TO SAY, TO ALL OF YOU IN THE PATH OF HURRICAINE SANDY, THAT YOU’RE IN OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS TODAY AS YOU DIG OUT FROM THIS. BE SAFE. BE CAREFUL. BE WISE. BE BLESSED.

When I was small I had one of those little record players that fit 45’s. The kind that, if you put a 33 1/3 on it, then it stuck way off the side. The kind that, if your 45 had a big 50-cent-piece hole in the middle, you had to insert a little disc into the hole that made the big hole into a hole small enough to fit on the spindle. That’s what I’m talking about.

I loved that record player. I would sit for hours in my room, playing with Lego or my dollhouse or Barbies, listening to those records. I had at least a dozen “Read Along” 45’s, complete with their accompanying books. “You will know it is time to turn the page when Tinkerbell rings her little bell, like this: ting-a-ling.” Those were awesome.

I also had some older 45’s that had been my sisters’. These were mostly songs but also a few stories: “Scarlet Ribbons” (the Harry Belafonte version, different from my 45, but you get the idea), “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (yes, that’s spelled correctly!), “Waltzing Matilda” (not the version I have on my 45, but a fun one just the same) by the Cricketone Children’s Chorus and Orchestra (as were many of my records), “Little Toot”, “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy”, Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” narrated by Victor Jory (this excerpt is similar.  There is a link to it from this NPR story.), “Pancho the Circus Donkey”, “Tutu, the Littlest Ballerina”, just to name just a few. I still can hear the last line of the Little Tutu record in my head, “Her name is little Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu…” Remember that fun quirk of records? I’m sure it wasn’t my fault that it was scratched. I’m sure I inherited it that way. I honestly am not sure if there’s more to that song or not, I always just took it off then.

One of the 45’s contained the song, “When I Grow Up”. Not until my kids were born and I put it on for them one day did I realize how…shall we say…unbelievable the song is. Very indicative of the age it was made, circa the 1950’s. Allow me to quote it for you in its entirety: The singer, a woman, sings, “When I grow up I’m going to be a fireman and put out all the fires in the town. When I grow up I’m going to be a fireman and keep those buildings from burning down. When I grow up I’m going to be a mailman and deliver all the mail to my friends. When I grow up I’m going to be a mailman, a mailman does a service that never ends. I want to be so many things as quickly as I can but woe is me it’s plain to see it just can’t be ‘cause I’m not a man. When I grow up I’m going to be a mother and try to be a mother just like mine. I’ll have a son just like my baby brother and he can be a fireman, he can be a mailman and that will be just fine.”

Yes. Those are the lyrics. I listened to it three times just now. No, my kids aren’t home to be unduly influenced. When I did put it on for them a few years back, not remembering anything much about it, I said when the song ended, “BUT WE KNOW THAT’S NOT TRUE, DON’T WE? YOU CAN BE THOSE THINGS IF YOU WANT!” They looked at me like I was nuts. “Umm, yeah, Mom. Whatever you say.” I guess I’m proof that the song didn’t ruin me. After all, I went to seminary to be a pastor, which is about the last bastian of male-only dominance out there. (Yes, I got one hate-mail letter while I was there.) But still the thinking behind the song flabbergasts me as a child of the 70’s.

See the lovely insert in the center of “When I Grow Up”? I’m amazed it hasn’t been lost over the years. I’m not even sure what I’d search for it I needed a new one…”That thing that goes in the middle fo old 45’s”, I guess!

Today I still love to pull out my records, though I don’t have the little old 45 player anymore. My kids and I listen to my vinyl stash when we’re in the playroom. The Hobbit and The Rescuers are their favorites. Complete with the background scritches and scratches, the circular rhythm to the slightly-warped vinyl.

And yes, they know what I mean when I randomly sing, “Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu….” But, I hasten to assure you, when my girls grow up they’re going to be firewomen if they want to. Or pastors. Just like their mom.

Thursday: Part 2…because I had too much to say for just one post.

PS: This is an amazing version of Peter and the Wolf, if you have time to watch it. It uses Prokofiev’s music that I listened to as a child on my old 45, but not the original storytelling, in fact, there are no words, just the music and sounds. While I loved (and still do) the old version, this is wonderful! Part 1 and Part 2Here’s a tiny taste if this is all you have time for.

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