All over Hamilton County and as far south as Dalton, sightings of hovering, rotating black discs have been reported. The discs were very common throughout the ’50s,’60s, ’70s and even into the ’80s, but disappeared due to technological progress and became only memories.
Yet now vinyl LPs are making a major comeback. The invasion has only just begun in Chattanooga.
As far back as the late 1800’s, “records” brought immense amounts of pleasure to generations of listeners. Those of us 36 and older, (give or take) have smuggled music and recorded media into our homes at various RPMs (mostly at 33 1/3 and 45) and these records brought us endless hours of listening pleasure. Or pain. Or comforted us through the pain. Turning our receiver dials to “phono” has generated songs of limitless joy as well as the bottomless despair. Sometimes the songs of heartbreak have made us cry even harder—but the songs helped us push on through.
I had a lawn chair in my room when I was a teenager. Wedged tightly between my bed and stereo, with Realistic headphones on and the volume cranked up to broil, I found sanctuary. My first LPs were The Monkees’ Greatest Hits and KISS’ Destroyer. But those albums did not have the impact of the ones from my junior and senior years in high school. As I stared endlessly at the covers, searching for the meaning of life, Derek and the Dominos taught me all about unrequited love and not being able to have someone you really wanted. Dan Fogelberg, The Eagles, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band showed me the ropes of great acoustic music and Pure Prairie League let me sit down with them for hours of guitar lessons. Then Eric Clapton with his genius double live album Just One Night was there yet again as he showed me all about the blues.
One drink of wine
Two drinks of gin
Pretty young girl put me
In the sha-ape I’m in
Early in the Morning
— Sonny Boy Williamson
After high school, the CD brutally dethroned vinyl. I took my guitars and record player and moved from Rockwood, Tennessee to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. After two weeks there, I met owner Dana Bloxom while perusing Dino’s Records in Fort Worth. I told him I was new in town, we talked about music—and he hired me on the spot. It was a great place to work and I got to play records all day long, but the store finally closed its doors in 2004, due to the popularity of digital downloads so easily accessed on home computers. Easy access to the Internet and free music available took away the need to go hungry for a week, saving your lunch money in great anticipation of the new Def Leppard album.
Lacking anything tangible to look at as music is piped into Internet speakers at the speed of light, meaning was lost. It seemed there would be no more hours of covergazing, or better yet, gatefoldgazing, looking for the secrets of the universe, reading and taking in every word like it meant life or death. It had seemed somehow as if the artists became your friends through the artwork and melodies. Even the music label information had some value.
Now, the times they are a’changin’—again. Increasingingly, bands are releasing or re-releasing their music on vinyl. The CD has long lost its cachet, and downloads are just invisible tomfoolery. Music lovers have grown weary of this façade and it is time to switch gears. We came perilously close to losing the magic that only vinyl can create.