Silver Springs

  
Hello everyone! I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, but my most recent record acquisition warrants re-entry into the blogosphere. I found a 45 of “Go Your Own Way” in a dollar bin in a Newbury Comics in Norwood, Massachusetts. I’ve been looking for this record for almost as long as I’ve been collecting. The reason why requires a bit of history.

In 1948, Columbia Records introduced the “Long Play” record. One could now play 45 minutes of music from a single disc, 22 minutes to a side. The 12 inch LP was originally meant for recordings of Broadway shows or long classical compositions, but it soon became the standard for pop albums regardless. Whoever set the length of the LP had never heard of Stevie Nicks or Lindsey Buckingham, nor could they have foreseen the impact that length would have on the lives of those two individuals.

Rumors by Fleetwood Mac is among the best selling records of all time, and songs like “Don’t Stop” and “The Chain” remain staples in the western word’s radio diet, but I’ve been looking for the 45 of “Go Your Own Way” for the last couple years for it’s b-side, “Silver Springs”, a song conspicuously absent from Rumors. 

Because a record only holds 45 minutes, “Silver Springs” was cut from the album in favor of the much shorter “I Don’t Wanna Know”. It’s a shameful omission in my view, as the song is Stevie Nicks’ direct response to Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way”. Those two songs together tell the story of the turbulent time in their relationship that made Rumors such a terrific album in the first place. According to Richard Dashut, Fleetwood Mac’s engineer and co-producer at the time, “Silver Springs” is “The best song that never made it to a record album.” I feel that Rumors isn’t complete without it. 

The copy I found sitting in the dollar bin has seen better days. The original sleeve is gone in favor of a generic white paper one, there are lateral and horizontal scratches on both sides, the record is slightly warped, and the hole in the middle is ever so slightly off-center, causing the tone arm to oscillate left and right as the record plays. Stevie Nicks’ voice, however, still rings true despite 40 years of neglect by this record’s previous owners. I’ve been looking for this one for a couple year now; I guess beggars can’t be choosers.

I normally store and organize my 45’s separately from my other records, but this one I’ve decided to keep with my LP’s, nestled between Rumors and it’s next door neighbor, Benny Goodman’s The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert. There may not have been enough space on a 45 minute LP, but there’s plenty of room on the shelf.

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Here Comes the Sun

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Possibly the most iconic album cover ever made

I got a beautiful new copy of Abbey Road on 180g vinyl last Christmas. It’s one of only three records in my collection that did not have an owner before me. This record came to me with no stories tucked away between the grooves, so it’s high time I made my own.

I never understood the importance of a record having two sides until I played this one. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” spirals downward into a pit of seemingly inescapable despair, collapsing in on its own gravity, until by some divine act, the pain stops. Now, the listener must stand up, walk back to the record player, and have the courage to drop the needle again. The first few notes of “Here Comes the Sun” are possibly the greatest sigh of relief in the history of recorded music.

It was this same sigh that I breathed in this morning when I walked outside, saw the blue sky, felt the sun’s warmth through my sweatshirt, and knew that winter was over. For those of you who live in New England, we really have had a “long, cold, lonely winter”.

The Spring air is an invitation and a call to action at the same time. It says “There’s work to be done”. Spring is the time for seeding and fertilizing. It’s the time to get the bike out of the basement and start riding again. It’s the time to repair the damage that winter has left in its wake. Spring is a time for rebirth, and it’s worth the effort.

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The Art of the Eggplant

A story about a car that was the minivan equivalent of the Magic Schoolbus.

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Growing up, I had the best car ever. A purple 1996 Dodge Caravan, the Eggplant was my noble steed from 2006 through 2012. Throughout that time, the ‘plant got a little bit decorated. Over the years, the roof was covered with signatures, drawings, newspaper clippings, and more.

Next to a horse. Next to a horse.

During a typical New England winter During a typical New England winter.

Like all cars, Suze, as the Eggplant was also know, got old and started to break down. We had to put her down in December 2012. But the Eggplant went out in style. Before she got scrapped for parts, I threw a party inside the car. About 10 or so people crammed into the Eggplant’s hallowed shell one last time. We even got pizza delivered to the car! It was a great time.

Before we parted ways, here are some pictures I snapped of the art of the Eggplant. And then it…

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Chicago 17

So, Chicago’s music falls into one of two categories. There’s the rock/funk fusion Chicago of the 70’s and the pop ballad/soft rock Chicago of the 80’s. Personally, I prefer their older style, but a good friend of mine since High School will only listen to what he calls “bad Chicago”, meaning their 80’s stuff. Occasionally, we rock out in the car to “You’re the Inspiration” or “Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry”, and it’s become something of an inside joke.

When I saw a copy of Chicago 17 (from the “Bad Chicago” era) at “In Your Ear” in Cambridge a while ago, I had to buy it. The near mint condition of this record exemplifies the kind of disposable popularity that “bad Chicago” had. This record hit number 4 on the billboard charts back in its day, and two of the singles from the album also made the top 5. Despite that, classic rock stations avoid “You’re the inspiration” and “Hard Habit to Break” like the plague and beautiful copies of Chicago 17 like mine sell as low as $2. (This was no bargain bin, either.) At any rate, when I told my friend about my most recent purchase, he didn’t really say anything at first. I was a little confused but didn’t ask him why. Later I found out that he had bought the same album to give me as a gift. He and I have a sitcom-caliber telepathic connection whose hub appears to be a Chicago record from the 80’s.

A record might play for only 44 minutes, but it holds so much more.  It holds sentiment. It holds personal connections. These things play for a lifetime.

 

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Why I love buying used.

A vinyl record is really an amazing thing. Someone came up with the idea to take the waveform of music, cut it into microscopic grooves on an lacquered aluminum disc, make a nickel silver mold of said microscopic grooves, and then stamp a hot vinyl hockey puck with it with a few thousand pounds of pressure so that ordinary folks could listen to music in their homes. However, the calculated and precise mastering and stamping process is only the beginning of a record’s life. Apart from normal wear, the average record goes through a series of violent and unpredictable process ranging from being dropped on the floor, being scratched by a friend’s overzealous manicure, or being left in a warm car in a Denny’s parking lot.

I love that you can see the songs on a vinyl record in addition to hearing them. I also love that you can hear the little imperfections and love bites on a record in addition to seeing them. Damaged portions of a CD just get skipped over, but the damaged portions on a record get played. You can literally hear that Dennys parking lot when you put on a warped record. You can hear those inconveniently long fingernails when the needle plays that scratch. You can call that damage, or you say that you phonograph is playing a story of music and life superimposed over the music.

I love buying used vinyl because you’re not just buying a record, you’re buying a part of someone’s life. And if you listen closely enough, you can hear their stories.

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Songs in the Key of Life

Photo 5This is the story of how I almost didn’t buy the best record in my collection. Way back in High School, when I started collecting music and getting into Stevie Wonder, I heard “Songs in the Key of Life” and fell in love with it. But, then as now, I was really cheap, and I never saw a copy of the CD in a record store for less than $20. Recently, after I got the record player I have now, I went down to a place called “Store 54” in Allston to see what they had. I saw a beautiful vinyl copy of SITKOL in the stacks, the only problem was that the price tag read $19.99. It seems that the universe set the price of SITKOL at $20 regardless of the location or format of the copy.

I still really wanted it, so I decided to get a closer look at it to determine if I was willing to pay $20 for a record. As I opened up the cover, the “A Something’s Extra” EP (It was the collector’s edition) came tumbling out on to the floor due to its precarious placement. The guy who owns the store saw the event transpire, and even though he didn’t say anything, I felt honor-bound to purchase it. When I got it home and played it, I suddenly felt like an idiot for the years I’ve spent thinking SITKOL wasn’t worth $20. It’s one of the best albums ever made; if you haven’t listened to it, go do it soon.

 

 

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