Sunday, March 29, 2015

Scratching the surface of a record collection (not literally).

When I first moved to town, I found a quick three day job roofing. As we unloaded the old roof into a dumpster, the home-owner was clearing out some things from his basement. Jack was an elderly gentleman who asked if I wanted a record player. I had just moved from a house with one and didn't actually have a turn table myself. I happily obliged and took his record player and 5 milk crates of records.
This is the tip of the iceberg. The old jazz and dance alone
almost puts this gold to shame.

"You sure you want this stuff? It's mainly dance music (tango, waltz, jazz etc) and old swing rock."
"Yes, I definitely want those things."
"...ok, but have you ever heard of X, Y or Z?"
"Nope, not yet."
"I don't know if you'll like it, but it's yours"

When I got home that night, I tried to hook the record player up and couldn't get the damn thing to engage. I was stumped by one of the most simple devices known to produce sound. As my origins lie in electronics and sound equipment to be exact, this was frustratingly infuriating. I held onto the blasted record player and never even dug through the records. They remained a mystery to be solved another day.

Cut to this past Friday: my mechanic friend Paul was getting off work early and called me to have a beer. He had already left the bar by the time I got out at four pm (keep in mind technicians get done early sometimes. When there's no more work, we go home. We are a rare profession that eagerly digs through our tasks to eagerly earn more). Paul came by my apartment as it was down the street from his post-work watering hole. We walked to the liquor store so I could enjoy a few post brews as well. When we got back to my place I had little to entertain with, I took the opportunity to ask about the record player.

Paul is a bit of a sound engineer when he isn't turning a wrench, he was happy to take a look at the turn table with me. We took the covers off and started playing with the moving parts.
"There's only five or six real components here. Those, and a ton of springs that are all probably worn out." Paul has a certain gift with explaining things.
"So how do we coax life out of an old belt-driven dinosaur?"
"Like this."
What proceeded to take place was half home-brew genius and a fantastic manipulation of old parts. The record player was alive and we started to dig through the records. What came next was nothing short of amazing. An actual break down of the collection will be posted in the days to follow (this whole read is essentially one long click bait). The importance here however is how intimate being handed someone's record collection can be.

I've been given an entire insight into someone's life and musical interests. This isn't a large stash picked up from some garage sale, it was the last of what someone held onto. It's the important stuff. The records that matter. It is a gift like I'll probably never experience again, and I couldn't be more grateful. It's like listening to their story, a slice history of their life.

I plan to write Jack a thank you card to drive home how amazing this all is. I hope he in some way grasps the terrible generosity of his act.

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