My turntable is broken and I’ve never gotten around to having it fixed. One day I found the needle had fallen off its perch and the album-less deck just spinning for who knows how long. I put it right and the thing hasn’t wanted to spin since. The turntable now rests on my husband’s old stereo inside of our den closet. It takes up too much room in there and other stuff is always stacked on top. That big old system is the only thing the turntable hooks up to. Newer stereos from run-of-the-mill electronics stores tend not to acknowledge vinyl. Every time we chance to drive past the local audiophile palace, Commercial Electronics, I always think “I’ve got to get my turntable repaired. It might already be too late. I’m screwed.”

But I can still get my vinyl fix. My parents bought a little turntable just before they went extinct.

I’m probably the only person in the family who plays the records anymore. Bob Dylan, Abba, Bee Gees, Boney M, John Denver, the Eagles, John Lennon, Simon and Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac and Billy Joel are the ones I pull out most often. The folky stuff is what I play when I’m sitting on the floor in front of the cabinet, holding the album sleeves and sifting through the rest. Lots of stuff to indicate the era in which mom and dad – young, sorta hip and newlywed – were collecting. They have soundtracks from West Side Story, Saturday Night Fever and My Fair Lady, classic albums like Rumours and the Red and Blue Beatles double-album sets, and assorted oddities and buried treasures – Olivia Newton-John (pre-Grease, pre-“Physical”), Barry Manilow Live!, Merle Haggard in concert, and Tijuana Brass Greatest Hits. Make your own judgements please.

I’ve added a few things myself. When the sixties were hip again, I picked up The Jimi Hendrix Experience, the soundtrack for Imagine: John Lennon, and The Monkees record we used to have and then lost. When I had my own turntable working, I spent bucks on import vinyl editions of Jamiroquai and Radiohead’s OK Computer which I put with the rest of the collection when we moved apartments, and took back the albums I had borrowed as well. They deserve to live with a stereo that plays them.

Come to think of it, there’s some stuff that I don’t see any more in there. Whatever happened to Elton John’s Greatest Hits and the Sheena Easton record my sister got the day my parent’s took us to the record store and we each got to pick out one? While I was torn between Mini-Pops and Annie for my choice (I got Annie), my oldest sister had a huge fight with the parents in the store because she wanted Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon over Michael Jackson’s Thriller. My parents said they wouldn’t be supporting any Boy George “tranvestite” music over that nice, normal Michael Jackson guy. We got Thriller. I wish we still had it, but got rid of it at our garage sale when he wasn’t as hip. Pervy as he turned out to be, that was still a damn good album.

It’s not that I’m an audiophile or vinyl-snob – I really can’t tell the difference in sound between an album and a CD. I do believe that disco just feels better played on a record player (You Should Be Dancin’ Yeah!) because that is its original home, the DJ and the Dance Club and the Shag-Carpeted living room. Or you can call me a folkie singing along to that stuff when I’m feeling blue. I like the way vinyl looks and feels with its the black grooved surface with some art or a label logo in the middle, the way it slides from a sleeve and goes onto the deck with a little plop, and turning the cover back and forth in my hands to see the graphics, song titles and maybe even a little message from the artist.

I can’t deny that there’s that 70s nostalgia/childhood memories connection to those records. I’m sure some demographers and market researchers are hard at work trying to find ways to remind me of my affinity for the goofy in order to sell me something newish, like the Dukes of Hazzard movie. I’m pretty sure a Love Boat for the big screen can’t be far behind. Even if I wrote it was the songs “Original Hits! Original Artists!”, K-Tel and Time-Life wouldn’t be be far from your mind, now would they? Vinyl does have a throwback element to it, the way it pre-dates CDs and digitalness. There is friction and warmth created where the needle meets the groove to release the music. Its a very visual experience too, seeing how long a song is by the distance between the rings on the surface and then measuring the progress of a side by the tightness of the spirals the needle is making. Have you ever become dizzy trying to read the song names in the centre?

I love the way vinyl feels. I love the music I love on vinyl and the way the songs feel intimate to me. I like having nothing to do but sit on the floor and listen to them for as long as anyone will let me. I’ll be sad when all the grooves become worn and the albums get tired of being my favourites. I’d have to think about whether not I can live with digitally remastered replicas on CD.