As my family and I were waiting in line at a restaurant on vacation, I picked up the New York Times and read an article written by Dwight Garner called Books worth buying a coffee table for. It gave a summary of eight books that he considered to be the "best gift books of 2008." The one that caught my attention was Old Rare New: The Independent Record Shop (Blackdog Publishing), edited by Emma Pettit. Gardner described it as an "elegiac love poem to the vanishing independent record shops in the United States and Britain."
The summary included a store owner's perspective - David Lashmar - on today's ipod generation. It truly is a love poem:
"They will never know the joy of flicking through a rack of records, being captivated by cover artwork and reading the sleeve notes. Of getting the record home, sliding it reverentially out of its cover and then out of its inner sleeve, marveling at the luster of the grooves. The sacrificial offering onto the altar of the turntable, the gentle penetration of the spindle, the lowering of the arm and the total bliss of being part of an actual performance that you have helped to complete. This baptismal immersion into sonic joy will never leave you. The day you bought the record, where you were, what you were wearing and who was in your heart, will be etched into your soul, as well defined as the grooves that are pressed into your record."
Lashmar is dead on in his description of how music, or records in this case, become part of who we are. About five or six years ago, a song was on the radio that included the lyrics "hey mister d.j. put a record on . . ." and my daughter (she was seven then) asked me "Mom, what's a record?" I was stunned at first and then the inner feeling of "man I am old" hit me like a brick wall (I didn't dare tell her that my first stereo had an 8-track player). Makes me wonder what kind of technology my grandchildren will grow up with. They may be asking their mothers someday "Mom, what's an ipod?"