The Record Collection

When my husband and I wed in 1971, we each brought a record collection to the marriage. Steve had actually minored in Music in college and boasted a far greater collection than I.

We didn’t have a stick of furniture between us, having both lived in furnished apartments before our marriage and spending our first year of wedded bliss in one, as well.

When we bought our first house, a small Cape Cod, we lugged the record collection into an empty living room and decided on our first furniture purchase. You guessed it, a stereo system. My husband didn’t want just any system, either. I was pretty much in shock when he carted in a Harman Kardon receiver and plopped two huge ESS speakers down into our thick shag.

Lack of furniture didn’t keep us from entertaining, however. We put up a card table and folding chairs in the living room, not too near the looming speakers, and kicked off our shoes, letting the music carry us away. It always fostered lots of lively discussion on artists, bands, and of course, the quality of stereo systems.

I had actually forgotten about those few few years with the ESS speakers until the other day when I decided to dust off the stack of record albums that has been tucked away in a corner for quite a while. Yes, they are vertically stacked, which is good, I’ve been told.

Many years ago, something went amiss with our turn table, and for some reason, we never got it fixed. The albums have been idle ever since, until, with dust cloth in hand, I took a close look at them and encountered an unexpected nostalgia. As I flipped through each album I remembered the many phases of my life. The album covers alone brought to mind my single years, my stay in Puerto Rico, the first time I met Steve, the early years of our marriage and our children. I found myself singing the lyrics as they easily came to mind. My husband has always been one who can name the singer or band of any song. I remember all the lyrics and the melodies. We do make a fine pair.

Today I counted the albums, 170. In that pile of memories I found the Rolling Stones, Jethro Tull, Cat Stevens, Isaac Hayes, Phil Ochs, Peter Paul and Mary, the Mamas and the Papas, the Association, Blood Sweat and Tears, Peter Frampton, the BeeGees and the Beatles. Of course I came upon Michael Jackson, Jerry Vale, Engelbert Humperdinck, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole and many more. I even found the old Sinatra albums as well.

I was one who enjoyed my parents’ generation’s music and still do. I listen to the Seriously Sinatra channel on Sirius radio. I was recently “found out” while listening to that station in my car with our grandson. His comment was, “Grams, you really like peaceful music, don’t you?” He has such a nice way of suggesting that I might not be “with it”.

Reminiscing about these records makes me want to slide off their album covers and listen to those great songs once again. We no longer have the towering speakers or the shag carpet, but we still could enjoy a night with Leonard Cohen. This time we can sit on a couch.

5 thoughts on “The Record Collection”

  1. Hi Larry,
    Dr. Hook’s Medicine Show? I have to plead ignorance. Now I’m determined to find out what I missed. I led a pretty sheltered life, I must admit, and, although a college student in the 60’s, (a conservative Catholic university, mind you), I was never one to be drawn to the Hippie era/drug/ drinking scene etc. Believe me, I’m not patting myself on the back. I came out relatively unscathed because I was always too afraid I’d throw up to try anything. That phobia remains intact. tell. What is the Dr. Hook Medicine Show? If I ask my husband, he’ll probably get a kick out of the fact that I don’t know… you have an eclectc interest in music… I’m a sap for pretty and/or haunting melodies, (love the theme song from the Italian movie, Girasol), but also enjoy any kind of dance music…LOVE to jitterbug as well as slow dance… Ah, the memories. I have a hard time warming up to the singers on shows such as American Idol because it seems to me that what is deemed “good” nowadays is simply a loud, powerful voice, usually with a Southern twang. I know I sound old…I love a clear that is always on top of the note, not in the middle or easing up to it. Don’t even get me started on horrific renditions I have heard of the Star Spangled Banner. My husband and I can’t even look at each other when someone is singing at a Colts game.
    We just nudge each other and laugh. Maybe another topic for the Store… By the way, congrats on your 10,000 songs.. I can’t imagine that many!!!

    1. Dr. Hook was a popular group in the 60s & 70s with lots of single hits. Go to YouTube and watch a video of Queen of the Silver Dollar or Sylvia’s Mother. Their most famous hit was Cover of the Rolling Stone. They did some great serious stuff but also some very wild, albeit funny, stuff about sex, drugs & r&r! The poet Shel Silverstein wrote many of their songs, including Freaker’s Ball.

    2. You fondness for the Anthem and your ability to make it unscathed through the 60s era would both be good topics for future pieces. I can relate to either.

  2. I suppose we all have had to deal with what to do with our record collections. I haven’t had a turn table for at least 25 years and I’m not too sure where my albums are hiding out. I had a great collection but when CDs came out I abandoned them. When I do occasionally reflect on my albums the one story that comes to mind was protecting my two young daughters from the sex, drugs, etc… found in so much of the 60s and 70s rock ‘n roll. Then one day I heard one of the girls singing the lyrics to Sylvia’s Mother and wondered where they had heard that. So I got to looking through my collection and found the Dr. Hook’s Medicine Show album missing. Sure enough, they had it upstairs in one of their bedrooms and knew the words to every song on the album from I Get My Rocks Off a Mountain to Freakin’ at the Freaker’s Ball. The lesson that came from this was it didn’t corrupt them. They both turned out to be wonderfully responsible citizens while being just twisted enough to smile at hearing lines like, “The greatest of the sadists and the masochists too, Screamin’ you hit me and I’ll hit you!”

    By the way, not all my covers were Dr. Hookish. I had lots of stuff more close related to Enoch Light and the Light Brigade, Louis Prima, and 101 Strings. I’ve always had an eclectic interest in music.

    Today I have well over 10,000 songs on MP3 and keep collecting more. Every time I see a stack of CDs at a yard sale I flip through them, buy a couple for fifty-cents, rip them to my hard drive, and donate them to the library or sell them back in a yard sale of my own.

    Thanks for the article, I enjoyed reading it very much.

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