CULTURE: Rocking Out to Records

Not only am I a fan of vintage things and ways of life, I am seriously old school when it comes to technology. Some of my aversion comes from nostalgia and preference (like I will never read on a Kindle because I love the smell and feel of old library books in my hands) as well as cost prohibitive (um, seriously My library card is FREE). Plus, I don't really like the compatibility issues and how quickly gadgets get upgraded or outdated; it's too complicated for me (my book doesn't have to be plugged in, fits in my pocket, and all I need to know is how to turn a page). And I like my music the same way. Enter the centerpiece of our living room: The Crosley Traveler Stack-o-matic Turntable:

I've had a record player as long as I can remember. My parents have a heavy old console one with a radio also embedded within the giant, lovely piece of furniture. I got a new "stereo system" of my own, my first, as a gift for my graduation from junior high school. It was from JCPenney and had a turntable, radio and tape deck. I replaced many a needle on that thing and rocked out to my NKOTB tapes and Beatles records for years and years. It finally broke for good about twelve years ago, when new record players weren't yet being made and getting my old one repaired in rural Oregon was impossible. I sadly parted with it. When we moved to Minneapolis I found the Crosley Stack-o-matic at Restoration Hardware in St. Paul and was so excited. It took us a while to save up for it, as it cost around $200, a lot for two grad students. I loved the look of it, with the tan vinyl covering, how it stacks and drops up to six records at a time, and the fact that it is portable and can be folded up and carried like a suitcase. Also, the two small speakers spout the old school gritty lo-fi sound that I love about playing vinyl.

And I was also thrilled to finally be able to play my beloved old friends again, like these classics. The Annie movie soundtrack is mine from childhood, which my mom gave me more recently. She also gave me a slew of our old Disney records, like Disco Mickey and these sweet little storybooks:

Lucy loves listening to stories this way and turning the pages with the chime. I loved them, too, and have fond memories of being read to via this shiny black vinyl disk. Over the years we've all amassed quite the collection of vinyl, including the girls, mostly from garage sales and flea markets for around 50cents a piece. Of course, my favorites are my collection of Elvis albums and I'm a huge fan of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, and Nina Simone, lovely ladies of jazz and blues. But of course I would be remiss if I didn't have a Cyndi Lauper album or two and some ABBA represented in the collection. And a little bit of samba and some Christmas tunes. And forty or so 1950s Hawaiian albums that I got off of Ebay. And we do, in fact, tote that Crosley around, mostly to the backyard for BBQs and firepit nights in the summer months. Our guests always comment on how fun it is and love digging through the albums to pick the next one. We do too, because it is a lot more of a personal, physical, memorable and exciting musical experience than pushing the tiny shuffle button on my Ipod.