Old Records

I am not old, but I am old enough to remember a time when music was melodies presented in AABA song form. Back before the internet. Back when we still had ABC Sunday Night Movies, and newspapers were everything.

Dust off your turntable. Play a few forty-fives and LPs. Pour yourself three-fingers of Ovaltine and relax. Today is National Vinyl Record Day.

Now, I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking the same thing. You didn’t know there was such a holiday. Well, there is. And it’s today.

This morning, my friend told me about this holiday. I got pretty excited because (a) I have not listened to my vinyl records in a long time, and (b) I couldn’t think of squat to write about this morning.

The thing is, I am like most modern Americans. Usually, I listen to music on my phone, which has terrible sound quality.

Ray Charles, for instance, singing over a crummy cellphone speaker is not nearly the same experience as listening to him sing over a crummy record-player speaker.

So I went to the attic, found my heavy boxes of LPs, and hauled them into the living room. I dropped them on the table, smiled at my wife, then announced in a nostalgic voice, “I think I pulled my groin.”

Whereupon I collapsed onto the sofa and screamed for fifteen minutes. I really tweaked it good, too. I now walk like John Wayne after his yearly colon exam.

But I have my father’s records to keep me company. My mother’s, too. Most of these albums have been with the family since my childhood. Such as:

—“Hank Williams Sings”

—“Walt Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree”

— “Four Tops Live”

—“Beach Blanket Bingo” (Frankie and Annette go skydiving!)

— “Love is the Thing” by Nat King Cole

—“The Music Man” (1957 Original Broadway Cast)

— “Willie Nelson and Family”

— “Songs, Themes, and Laughs from the Andy Griffith Show”

—“Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music” by Ray Charles

I am listening to albums on an Amplitone suitcase turntable with a brand new needle. They take me back in time. These songs resurrect people I once loved. Music can do that.

When Ray Charles sings the Hank Williams classic, “You Win Again,” I get chills. Life doesn’t get any better than this.

I am not old, but I am old enough to remember a time when American music was still presented in AABA song form. Back before the internet, when we still had the ABC Sunday Night Movie, and newspapers were everything.

Newspapers. I grew up as a newspaper fanatic. Each morning before school, I would run to the end of our driveway to get the paper. I’d shake it open and I would read baseball box scores.

I hated the Yanks, liked the Mets, the Braves were the worst team in baseball—so naturally I loved them. I kept tabs on the Gashouse Gang, the Baby Bears, the Sox, and the Royals.

I wouldn’t root for the Dodgers at their own funeral.

After the sports section, I would read the funny papers. You had “Marmaduke,” “Dick Tracy, “The Family Circus,” “Dennis the Menace,” “Garfield,” and “The Far Side.”

God bless Charles Schulz.

And those were just appetizers. Your main course was the columnists. I loved humor columnists. I never missed a Lewis Grizzard, an Erma Bombeck, or a Dear Abby.

I still remember the Dear Abby column about the kid who wanted a pet monkey. I have this column stuck to my refrigerator.

It goes like this:

“DEAR ABBY: All my life, I have wanted a monkey. I have saved $14. I asked Daddy if I could buy a pet monkey and he said no, because I wouldn’t know how to take care of it. My mom is the fussy type. You know, everything has to be just so. Do you know anyone who has a pet monkey, and can give me some advice?”

This is classic Dear Abby. And just when you think America’s level-headed advice-giver is going to respond with something about how monkeys are impractical pets that frequently throw their own droppings at zookeepers, Abby answers like this:

“DEAR KID: I have had two pet monkeys (David and Bathsheba)…”

Wait just a minute. Are we to understand that America’s most trusted counselor; whose photograph looks like a friendly Century 21 real estate broker; who delivers straightforward advice like the lady next door; who once went on record to oppose the mop-top haircut; has in fact owned not one, but TWO pet monkeys?

And are we to also understand that after purchasing these monkeys from responsible breeders, she named them after characters from the ONLY Biblical story my Sunday school teacher refused to read aloud in class because it involved a steamy bathtub scene on a balcony?

Yes, you had to love Abby. What a down-to-earth gal. I’ll bet she threw great barbecues.

So right now I am listening to music. Good music. The sound of guitars, a piano, an upright bass, and the voice of Ray Charles. I am remembering how music sounded before computers came along and messed it all up.

Ray is singing, “You Don’t Know Me.” And this tune does something to me. I have listened to this song nearly fifty times, and each time it makes me cry. Not just because it’s a pretty song, but because they don’t make music like this anymore.

And because this groin muscle is killing me.

24 comments

  1. Nell Thomas - August 13, 2019 6:50 am

    Those old songs do get to ya. I’m sure lifting a heavy box of records can to. Take care of yourself-preserve that groin muscle – like you do those 45s and LPS- just bring down a few at a time.
    Great story- thanks.

    Reply
  2. Karen - August 13, 2019 8:16 am

    My husband kept the high quality stereo speakers, turntable, and receiver he bought when he was in college. We both saved all of our vinyl records. It is one of the things we enjoy most, listening to those records. We have a newer collection, as well.
    You cannot create the sound from a vinyl album in a CD, DVD, or tape. It is incredible. Hearing that music transports me to another time and place.
    I had no idea that there was a National Vinyl Album Day.
    Thank you, Sean.

    Reply
  3. Judy - August 13, 2019 9:32 am

    That scratchy sound and the skip from a groove in the vinyl. The artwork on the covers….the record stores where you could listen to the album before you bought it.

    Reply
  4. Susan Adams - August 13, 2019 11:09 am

    Thanks for the memories and the heads up about National Vinyl Record Day. In its honor, I’ll turn on the turntable and listen to my late father’s Kingston Trio albums, Cat Stevens and Linda Rondstadt from high school and college days, and my entire Jason Isbell collection, including the Drive-by Trucker years.

    Reply
  5. Joe Patterson - August 13, 2019 11:15 am

    Thanks for the memories

    Reply
  6. Michael Bishop - August 13, 2019 11:39 am

    “You Dom’t Know Me” is indeed a classic RC song. I used to know every word. Today I’m going to have to Google the lyrics to reacquaint myself with them. Don’t know whether to laugh or cry. . . .

    Reply
  7. Ginger - August 13, 2019 11:54 am

    I listened to records all afternoon yesterday(must have had my days mixed up because today should have been the day according to a popular, in-the-know columnist). I spent time with a young adult beauty in the fall before she went back to her overseas job. She flipped when she saw my record player, and we played records and danced around the den all afternoon. We were SUPPOSED to be cooking dinner for her parents. (She is a beauty and I can cook). What a wonderful memory of that afternoon you brought back this morning. You just never know, do you? Incidentally, she got a record player for her birthday.

    Reply
  8. dragons4me3 - August 13, 2019 12:01 pm

    Ah, nostalgia! Such lovely memories, such revival of warm feelings, so likely to make us forget we are no longer as young and fit as when the events actually happened…my family used to have a huge collection of LPs, because we didn’t have a television and/or radio. Wouldn’t be surprised to find they are mostly still in my mom’s house still packed up from the last time she moved 40 years ago. Someday if the heat ever changes to a bearable temperature around here I’ll try to remember to go look.

    Reply
  9. Mike - August 13, 2019 12:20 pm

    Enjoyed your post about old records and comment about Ann Landers and Dear Abby. I remember my favorite comment she made to a girl who was feeling bad about a comment others girls made about her. She asked, “how should I respond?” Ann Landers wrote back, “just say that you have a point but if you wear a hat, no one will notice.” I have used that line many times over the years.

    Reply
  10. Meredith Smith - August 13, 2019 12:28 pm

    I love the warm crackling sound of LPs on a turntable. My collection isn’t huge per se but big enough to keep me happy. I am a music junkie, I can’t get through the day without music. It lifts the spirit, doesn’t it? Take care of that groin, Sean – lay on the couch and let it rest to some classic Hank Williams. ❤️ 😂

    Reply
  11. GaryD - August 13, 2019 12:49 pm

    Use to have lots of records. Mainly 45’s but 33’s, too. Well, one day, when it looked like record players and vinyl records were on their way out and 8-tracks and cassettes were on their way in I discovered that 45’s and 33’s made great frisbees. I’m sad to say that most of them were destroyed. I did save a few and later gave them to my oldest sister. If I could turn back time….😢

    Reply
  12. Connie Havard Ryland - August 13, 2019 12:52 pm

    They absolutely do not make music like that anymore. I’m an old lady, a product of Walter Cronkite on the news, Peanuts cartoons, Erma Bombeck and Lewis Grizzard in the newspaper, and Hank Williams, Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves, Conway and George and Loretta…well you get the picture. I don’t complain about the modern world. Some of the changes are good. I am a fan of computers and the changes they have brought. And I subscribe to SiriusXM so I can hear the music I love. Thanks for the memories. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  13. Lois - August 13, 2019 1:05 pm

    Well, yesterday was middle child day! That is something you can write about.
    I was a middle child. My older sister had all the brains and my little brother got all the attention. I flunked the first grade. The following year my dad died. Wonder I ever got out of first grade!

    Reply
  14. Lois Truss - August 13, 2019 1:48 pm

    Two of my all time favorite songs. You Don’t Know Me and You Win Again. Add to that Born to Lose. I still have the album Ray Charles Sings Country. The cover is red. Always brings back an image of playing that record on the hifi in our basement.

    Reply
  15. Joy T Lane - August 13, 2019 1:55 pm

    We can’t turn back time. But, sometimes I wish we could. Even for just a little while.

    Reply
  16. Peggy Hartley - August 13, 2019 2:06 pm

    Sounds like you’ve been in our attic!

    Reply
  17. Shelton A. - August 13, 2019 2:17 pm

    You can turn back time inside your mind and remember. I sold my records many moons ago and went to CDs. It’s the stuff I grew up on and almost every song has a memory. Enjoy your day and be careful moving the records back up. One groin pull is all a man should have in his lifetime. God bless you and Jamie. Sing ’em a pretty one, Ray!

    Reply
  18. Mary T. - August 13, 2019 3:50 pm

    Sean, I have an album you would love. It’s Andy Griffith telling stories. The one about the football game is my favorite. I think I’ll have another big orange.

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  19. Sue - August 13, 2019 4:08 pm

    …”they don’t make music like this anymore.”
    Amen and amen!

    Reply
  20. Linda Moon - August 13, 2019 4:24 pm

    When I was a teenager, a local radio station had a contest. Whoever called in with the right answer won the prize: your height in records. I won a 5’6″ stack! I wish I had saved most of them. You, Sean Dietrich, admit to listening to music on your phone?? I am appalled! But then…. your squat turned into descriptions of albums on the turntable, newspapers, and humor columnists resurrected from the Gates of Heaven: Grizzard, Bombeck, and Pauline Phillips (aka Dear Abby). And all became well with my world again!

    Reply
  21. Janet Mary Lee - August 13, 2019 4:33 pm

    Take care of your groin!! Never said that to anyone, lol…I still have 45’s and 33’s. You brought back good memories..and better sound! Vinalys are making a comeback!! Yay!!

    Reply
  22. susanogden624 - August 14, 2019 12:59 am

    OmGoodness….I have decided I need to reward myself every single night with reading all your blogs I have ever missed!!! I need the laughter like I need to drink more water…which I never remember to do …but I swear I am going to check in before bed and read as many as I can so I can laugh….or cry…or a combination of both. I swear you need to come do a show here…I would SO come and see it and so would my friends and family. Whoever told you that you would not make it as a writer had rocks where his/her brains should have been! (I am trying to be nice …honestly!)

    Thanks again for making my long day a bright one into the evening!

    Susan

    PS. My best to Jamie, Thelma Lou and any of the others I may have missed!!!

    Reply
  23. Dru Brown - August 14, 2019 1:03 am

    The voice of Ray Charles really gets to me, too! And “You Don’t Know Me” is bewitching!

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  24. Steve Winfield - August 14, 2019 2:32 pm

    Check out Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. Absolutely NOT on a cell phone though. All instrumental & pretty deep but it certainly grows on you in time. As a fellow musician I know you’ll appreciate it.
    Steve

    Reply

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