Vinyl

By Wes Sterrs | Mar 05, 2010
Wes Sterrs

When I set a record on my turntable, I'm blasted into the past. I love vinyl because it is a time capsule, because it's ageless. I love vinyl because the album could have been made in 1968 in London and I'd be listening to it now, in Belfast, Maine, and it's so like I'm in the recording studio with the band -- like I'm part of that history. Nothing sounds like it, no iPod or CD player. I come from the generation of Walkmans and iPods, but I choose to listen to vinyl. It sounds, looks, feels, smells better than any MP3 or CD could. It has all the senses -- it's like a sentient being. It smells, it speaks, it feels.

I remember one Sunday morning, years ago. I was sitting next to my dad watching the "Sunday Morning Show" on CBS and a segment on vinyl came on. At the time I really knew nothing about vinyl. The segment had all sorts of clips from Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Deep Purple, all the greats. I sat in awe of the huge disc, bigger than any CD I had ever seen.

I saw it being recorded; being printed, mass-produced, and then listened to. The segment came to a close with the words, "Vinyl may be outdated, but it will never die." My dad nodded and said, "It's true. Nothing sounds like it. It's clearer than any CD. People just got tired of the size." After watching that segment on "Sunday Morning," I knew already, without even listening to a record, vinyl was what I would be listening to.

I walk into Wild Rufus. The smell of vinyl hits me as soon as I enter the door. Nathaniel always says hi to me. I don't know if I'm technically a regular, but he knows who I am and what my mission is. The rock records are in the back. I walk the carpeted floor to the back of the store; the walls are lined with rare records that are way out of my price range. The old cardboard smell grows stronger as I get closer. The records are in a big wooden bookcase, like a library of rock and roll, except, less readin' and more rockin'. I climb the ladder to the top row where the A's are. I take my time, making sure I don't miss something I need, like Alice Cooper or the Allman Brothers. I move on to the B's looking for The Beatles or Black Sabbath ... still, nothing. I take a chance, climb down a rung on the ladder, and find the L's -- LA ... LB ... C ... D ... LE. I've got sweet alphabetizing skills as you can see. I spot something. I wriggle it out of the stack gently, wipe the thin layer of dust off and look at the cover. The children play naked on the rocks by the sea, not in a pornographic way, but in a liberated, carefree way. The rocks have a green tint; the children's hair is white blond. The sky though, the sky is what makes "Houses of the Holy" amazing. The sky is orange. Not setting sun orange, but citrus orange. I see the record is in my amazingly broad price range of $7 to $13. I put the record under my arm like I'm carrying schoolbooks. I take it to Nathaniel and pay.

I'm home now, holding my new friend above the turntable, about to put it down and drop the needle. The record lies flat as a desert plain on the player. I drop the needle and the record moves like clockwork. I hear that moment before the music plays. It's a dead space; all you can hear is the pops and crackles of the record before the music plays. Then the music begins and I'm gone.

I listen to vinyl every day. Some people, some of them in this room, call me obsessed. I just say I have a passion. I'll get ready for bed every night and I'll sit in front of my speakers and listen to "Dark Side of the Moon." It's like my psychedelic lullaby. I clean my room to Black Sabbath and play my video games to Iron Butterfly. And I'll do just about anything to Led Zeppelin. I don't need a reason for listening to vinyl. It's my friend who doesn't stop talking -- and I pay attention to every word this friend says.

Wes Sterrs, a sophomore at Belfast Area High School, is the drummer for a local band, the Gentlemen of Society. He is also performing on stage in the annual high school One Act Play Competitions.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Kim D Snyder Sterrs | Mar 26, 2010 10:12

A wonderful piece, Wes.  And thanks for always having such classic musical taste!



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