Continuing education, retro style

Mysontheguitarist asked me last week if we had any Led Zeppelin cassettes, and I obliged by pointing the way. After records, 8-tracks and cassettes, and multiple copies of some albums in multiple formats, my husband and I screeched up short at yet another format and balked at buying very many CDs. And with iTunes, that has turned out to be just as well.

I think this stemmed in part from flipping through channels on a night with very slim pickings. One of the VH1s was showing “The Song Remains the Same,” and I parked there and waved the boy over. He didn’t have any use for Robert Plant and didn’t get the hair, but he longed for more closeups of Jimmy Page’s fingers.

So he trudged up from the basement with a box of cassettes. I picked through them with him, insisting he keep a couple out just for single tracks off them, but to his dismay there was no Jimmy Page to be found. Then he remembered and asked, “Do you have any Led Zeppelin records?”

Possibly, I said, and we went to the remaining record stash. Many of mine were gone, gifts to a guitar-playing nephew who apparently wanted to display them on his wall. But my mate’s odd mix of classic rock and classic disco brought forth some treasures, including Clapton, Van Halen, Pink Floyd and the promised “Physical Graffiti.” There was some obligatory reverence paid to the album art.

Of course we still had a turntable around. Then came the question: How do you skip from one song to another?

“You pick up the needle and move it where you want it,” I said, and his jaw dropped. “You’re kidding.” I assured him I was not, sliding out vinyl and showing him the gaps between songs.

After a few fits and starts, including a declaration that the player had no “pin” – how easy will it be to find a new needle, I wondered – he realized the needle in fact had a protective cover and removed it, and didn’t even mind moving the needle to skip to higher-priority songs. We’ve been telling him he needed to hear people like Clapton, but figured radio would do well enough. I kind of like how things have worked out, though.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

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