I grew up with vinyl.
Some of my first memories are of my dad changing records on a Zenith console stereo in the basement as my parents and their friends drank longnecks, smoked, and played pool all the while Led Zeppelin, The Doors, ZZ Top, and Three Dog Night spun on the turntable. I recall bugging my mom to put on The Beatles’ White Album so I could hear “Back In The U.S.S.R.” on the upstairs stereo. Then as the song faded out and “Dear Prudence” came in I’d ask her to play it over again(my love for “Dear Prudence” would come later.) I would go with my dad into town sometimes. Usually in the hopes that we’d take his 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. That car felt like a spaceship to me. On these trips into town we’d either end up at a Napa auto parts(cause we owned a Pontiac Trans Am) store or Butterfly Records so my dad could grab a vinyl of some album he was told he’d like(usually by someone at work.) The one trip to Butterfly Records that always sticks out in my mind is when my dad bought Alice Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare. My older brother and I went with him. I can recall sitting in the backseat of the Firebird holding that record and looking at Alice Cooper, full regalia staring back at me. It freaked me out. My older brother kept whispering “Don’t look at him too long or he’ll come out of the cover and get you.” As the song “Steven” played I can remember staring down the dark hallway from the living room waiting for Alice Cooper to appear. Whenever I’d hear that song I’d always imagine the opening sequence to Night Gallery as well. A kaleidoscope of madness running over and over in my head. It would play on repeat in my mind as that song would play.
As I got older the first album I bought with my own money was not on vinyl, but cassette. I bought Ratt’s Out of the Cellar when I was 10 years old. It was Butterfly Records once again, only this time they were hooking me up instead of my dad. Cassettes were my first foray into music consumption, but when I was 13 my parents bought me my own console stereo. It was one of those all-in-one jobs from Soundesign. There was a dual cassette deck, AM/FM stereo, and a turntable. It had tower speakers and the stereo was in a faux wood cabinet complete with wheels. This was Christmas of 1986. I was on Christmas break and the day after Christmas my mom took me to Butterfly Records(of course) so I could spend some Christmas money. My brother had bought me Judas Priest’s Unleashed In The East on vinyl, so I could break that crappy Soundesign tonearm in of course. Being in a Judas Priest mood I picked up their album Screaming For Vengeance. I also bought Vinnie Vincent Invasion’s self-titled(don’t judge.) I picked up a couple more vinyl throughout the next few months before cassettes took over once again.
Cassettes filled my music urges till the summer of 1992 when I boxed them all up and began the CD binge. That would last for the next 16 years until in the fall of 2008 when I got the ridiculous urge to start collecting vinyl. Maybe it was nostalgia, maybe it was hearing about this “Record Store Day” craziness, or maybe it was a brain tumor; whatever it was I followed the little voice in my head. I bought an Audio Technica AT-PL120 and I’ve never looked back. I actually bought my first two records a couple months before I bought the turntable. On an October trip to Chicago to see My Morning Jacket, my wife and I headed to Jazz Record Mart where I bought Wes Montgomery’s Smokin’ at the Half Note and McCoy Tyner’s The Real McCoy. I guess I was calling my own bluff. “You said you wanted to collect records, well here you go. Now you HAVE to buy a turntable.”
The first Record Store Day celebration I attended was RSD 2010. I headed to Fort Wayne with my 5-year old son and we made our way to the North Anthony Wooden Nickel. The place was packed. There was coffee and chocolate chip cookies being served(my son was thrilled about the cookies.) I got to see Wooden Satellites perform. I didn’t buy any of the RSD exclusives. The one I wanted was Wilco’s Kicking Television 4LP boxset, but I didn’t have the $75 large for that acquisition. I ended up buying a used copy of Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ Armed Forces and a signed copy of Matthew Sweet’s Blue Sky On Mars for my wife. For some reason I missed out on RSD 2011, but RSD 2012 I ended up back in Fort Wayne(this time with my 9-year old daughter) and we hit Neat Neat Neat Records. It was already after 9am so they were pretty much picked over. I still ended up with an Of Montreal/Deerhoof split and bought Wooden Shjips’ West LP. There was coffee and donut holes(my daughter was thrilled about the donut holes.) What I’d really wanted that year was The Flaming Lips’ The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, but NNN was out of it and so was the North Anthony Wooden Nickel. As we made our way out of the Fort we made one last stop at the Clinton Street Wooden Nickel and low and behold there was one copy of Heady Fwends waiting there(just for me, obviously.)
Since 2013 I’ve celebrated Record Store Day right here in my hometown. Karma Records of Warsaw, which is run by John Vance and a small crew of very cool folks, have striven to make Warsaw a cool place to spend your cash on the Christmas of music buying days. Much like Neat Neat Neat Records’ Morrison Agen and Wooden Nickel’s Bob Roets, John is a music lover first and foremost. I can remember meeting John over ten years ago when he worked at the Sam Goody here in town. Even then he was passionate about music, even if half his job was putting out action figures and DVDs, while the other half was dealing with music. John started out with his Record Store Day quantities being rather small, but he’s built it up year after year. The line outside Karma at 7:30 AM went from a handful of folks to 30 to 40 people by the time the door opens. I loved hitting NNN and Wooden Nickel in the past, but driving an hour wasn’t as much fun. And if I wanted a chance to get something I needed to leave sooner. John Vance and Karma Records of Warsaw have made Record Store Day something special, and just ten minutes away from my house.
Tomorrow, April 21st, I’ll be celebrating Record Store Day 2018 at Karma Records in Warsaw for the 5th year in a row, and with the usual crew of misfits and music nerds. I’ll rub elbows with familiar faces and new ones. I’ll(hopefully) grab those exclusives I’ve been dreaming about, and maybe grab a surprise or two. I’ll work my way back to the family van and head home to spin my vinyl acquisitions with a freshly brewed cup of dark roast and maybe fall back asleep in my chair for a bit.
I grew up on vinyl. And it seems I’m growing old with it, too.