Me with Imagine by John Lennon, 2014
Me with Good Times! by The Monkees, 2016
First photo of my collection, 2014
My collection in 2015
My collection in 2016
My collection now
When I was twelve years old, I started to love music. But as great as just about everything ever recorded being available at my fingertips was, there was just something about another format that fascinated me.
“Vinyl’s cool,” I thought to myself.
On this day in 2014, I had just come home early from a road trip to Ohio because something was up with my house, and my parents had to be there to take care of it right then and there. My friend I was visiting there had a record player, and a nice little collection of classic rock, classical, and Disney records. I only had two at that time: In 3D by “Weird Al” Yankovic, and Give My Regards To Broad Street by Paul McCartney. As much as I wanted one, I didn’t have a turntable until I turned thirteen that July. My only source of playing records was on my grandparents’ Crosley 5-in-1, (which at the time I didn’t know that it was a huge mistake to abuse my two records on that thing.) which was why I brought both of my albums with me to Ohio.
But a few days after I arrived home, my parents decided that they enjoyed antiquing in Ohio so much, they were going to give it a try down here. We tried three different antique shops looking for (primarily) albums that were worth it. I only found two I knew, one an album, one a 45. The album was by this guy B.B. King, who I had always loved, but not enough to pay $30 for. The 45 was by The Monkees, being the theme song to their TV show on side A, and Mary, Mary on side B. Again, I had always been a fan of The Monkees, and had seen Davy Jones live before he passed away. But I think I’d even agree now that regardless of whether or not I have a turntable now, $10 is a bit much for a 45 without the original picture sleeve.
But what I didn’t know was that I was still going to go home with a record that day.
The last antique shop we hit was full of old tools and such. That place only had four records that I could find. Three of those four were country records by folks that I had never heard of. But guess what fourth record sat there in the corner, staring at me for $1.10?
Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel.
Not only had I been a longtime fan of them – Paul Simon, both solo and as a member of S&G was (and still is!) in my top 10, top 5, and top 3. I had to buy it. On the ride home, I was proud of myself – I finally had an album that did not come from a family member. While it was used, it would be another few months until I got my first album that was mine the entire time.
On this day in 2014, I began to collect vinyl. Here are some of my favorite memories of it over the last few years.
My primary digging spot has been Bananas Music in St. Petersburg, FL since March of 2015. I went digging there maybe once or twice a month. But what was my third dig ever there was actually one of the greatest times I look back on.
It was a Saturday in May. I was just about to graduate from eighth grade, I had played the lead role in my school musical the night before, and we all nailed it. For the first time in years, I felt totally alive and enthusiastic inside. My folks drove me out to my favorite record store to celebrate the beginning of summer, and my totally awesome portrayal of Horton The Elephant in Seussical Jr.
I selected Bananas.
Just my haul that day just gave me more enthusiasm that I have had in about two years. Here’s what I got that day, along with its price.
Don McLean – American Pie ($3)
The Sound of Music Soundtrack ($3)
Elvis Presley – Elvis’ Golden Records ($5)
Paul McCartney – Tug of War ($5)
George Harrison – Cloud Nine ($8)
Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends (8)
Billy Joel – The Stranger ($1)
Billy Joel – 52nd Street ($1)
You Don’t Have To Be Jewish ($1)
I think 2015 was my best year for vinyl. I got a reissue of The Beatles’ infamous butcher cover, a bootleg of their rare Christmas album for $10, and a first pressing of Simon & Garfunkel’s debut album, Wednesday Morning 3AM. In spite of all that, this had to be my best haul.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the haul that really kicked off my collection. I already owned about 40 albums at the time, but considering how rapidly my taste in music was rising, I needed a wider selection of artists. Cloud Nine was an album I had been hunting for since the year before. George was always my favorite of the Beatles because his solo career is insanely underrated. If more people today knew that he was a member of The Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, and Tom goddamn Petty, his music would probably be a lot more recognizable than it is today. Tug of War was a suggestion to buy from a friend that I, unfortunately have cut all communication with since, and honestly, it was amazing in its own right. Finally, my uncle, like me, has a top 20 artists list, and Billy Joel is #3 on his rock and roll list. (which is a little low for me) After he gave me his An Innocent Man album from when he was a kid, I told him that I really enjoyed it, and he told me to look for The Stranger.
I found it with 52nd Street, back to back. $1 apiece.
But the highlight that day was You Don’t Have To Be Jewish. During the holidays, one of my dad’s colleagues had me listen to a skit from this old comedy album on MP3, and it was so funny, I wondered how the hell I missed this in my 13 years alive. (whatever) I immediately scoured eBay and Discogs for a vinyl edition of the entire album, and because it’s out of print, the prices they were going for were pretty high for me. But I found a first (and only) pressing of it in the back room where they have discount albums from $1 – $3, while I was just casually digging. It didn’t have an inner sleeve, but frankly, that day, I did not give a crap.
I filmed my first thirteen minutes digging there that day, and I wish I had caught my reaction to YDHTBJ.
A lot of good and bad things happened in 2016. Bad? We lost David Bowie and Carrie Fisher, I broke my leg pretty badly, and the biggest mass shooting in American history occurred an hour and a half away from my house. But a lot of good happened, too, which is why I’ll be sharing two memories from here, as this year, not a lot has happened, considering the fact that I’ve only been out on two digs total this year. What?!
Right after Christmas, I was given notice that I no longer had to drive all the way out to St. Pete for my albums, because a new shop in Clearwater was opening. Every month, they hold a record show where sellers in the Bay area come in to buy, and sell records. I couldn’t go to the one in January because I was out of town for it. But in February, a friend of mine met up there for our second out of many digs to come.
This shop had a huge shelf that was about 8 and a half feet tall, full of $1 records. And you never knew what you’d find. You could find Soundgarden, you could find Gary Dee Bradford. Anything was possible. Most of the albums I got that day, except for one, were $1, and it all totaled up to about $25 total.
Yep. 21 records in a day. (well, actually 22 because I bought a Queen Greatest Hits album at a street market for $5 earlier that day)
While they weren’t in pristine condition, most of them played so well, I still have them. But there was one that my dad bought for me, and it was the $5 album: an original pressing of Purple Rain by Prince, just without the poster. This was about two months before he passed away, so not being a passionate fan of Prince at the time, (I became one like, a month later) I really just threw it in my collection and let time go on.
Then, in March, I broke my leg.
I got to take two weeks off of school – Only because the second week was spring break. To ease myself before the surgery I had on it, I decided that it would be pretty cool to try and get through all of my albums. I started out with the ones I didn’t really enjoy at first. Purple Rain was one of them. I finished the album, and it was like a spiritual awakening. I couldn’t believe that being the music freak I was, I had never heard it before.
When the news broke a month later that Prince passed away, I was mortified. I was just now getting into his music, and just the night before, I looked for tickets to if he was ever gonna make a tour stop in Tampa. (which he only did once in his entire career in 2001) As soon as I got to my turntable, I started spinning Purple Rain, and I remember turning off all the lights and silencing my fan when the title track started playing on side B. I only wanted to hear Prince, without the AC on.
2016 (part 2)
2017 has really not left me with many amazing memories of vinyl, so I’ll write about a memorable one that I had with a friend of mine in October 2016.
I had known about this huge record warehouse in St. Pete since 2014, but I had never been to it. They said that they had over 3 million pieces of vinyl, which was about right. My friend and I had been to just about every record shop in town, so we (I,) wanted to check the warehouse off the list. I had gone to a YES reunion concert with Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman the week before, and I only had two YES albums in my collection, so I figured that this warehouse was the perfect opportunity to find some.
As soon as we arrived, we walked up the green metal stairs to the entrance and opened the door. The first person we saw was one of the owners, sitting there pricing some albums. The first thing she says to us?
“Sorry, boys. We don’t sell prog rock here.”
We didn’t look like punk teenagers or anything. Even though I had bleached blonde hair at the time, I was wearing a Billy Joel t-shirt with jeans. My friend was just wearing black, black, and black. No big deal, right?
We kinda just ignored her, because we just wanted to start digging.
My friend that drove me out here is a hardcore metalhead, so obviously, I expected him to be looking for metal classics: Mötley Crüe, Cinderella, and of course, Metallica. But while he found Theatre Of Pain by Crüe, he found some other albums that I never expected him to even consider.
He was holding Frontiers by Journey and an album by 38 Special. “Really? 38 Special?” I asked him.
I had a stack of my own records I was going to buy (Monkees, Bob Dylan, Yes, etc.) that was going to total up to about $50, so who was I to judge? I think the best part of it all was check-out. When the owner who told us that she didn’t sell prog there rang my albums up, she got to The Yes Album by Yes last.
“So I actually did find some prog, now didn’t I?!” I sarcastically bragged, to which no response came from her.
Collecting vinyl has been painful, wasteful of money, and often times torturous. But it’s all been worth it, because one day when I have kids of my own, they’ll have a way to learn about the old days. Well, actually, come to think of it, vinyl has really made a huge comeback in recent years, which thankfully, I was a part of.