By Diana Sevanian
Signal Staff Writer
If you’re like most seniors, you once owned a gold mine: your very own record collection.
As years passed, however, those harmonious hordes became endangered species. Compact discs made their preview in the 80s, with millions of audiophiles preferring their pet sounds come from the convenience of CDs.
Eventually many folks decided to scale down their emptying nests (and sell off the contents of their parents’ abodes, too), resulting in mammoth numbers of moving and estate sales. These disposal bonanzas offered dirt cheap record players and records, everything from Beethoven to Gershwin, Sinatra to Joni Mitchell, Beatles to Steely Dan, “Fantasia” to “Star Wars.”
Unlike many boomers, I never let go of my records. Sentimental gal that I am, it’s been impossible to even consider parting with the memories attached to my LPs and 45s, even with their occasional pops, skips and hisses.
Unlike any drug or alcoholic beverage available, the music of my life is a neurochemical catalyst for many of the sweetest and most unforgettable moments I’ve ever known. In short, they’re a trip.
To my ear and synaptic brain network, each plastic fantastic relic delivers me to the wellspring of my youth — when life, love and possibilities were endless.
Just the other day, I was on a show tunes kick and spent several hours cleaning my home while listening to tunes from “Flower Drum Song,” “West Side Story” and “Funny Girl.” The mandatory drudgery associated with toilet disinfection and laundry became indiscernible toil, because I was too busy singing along to these stellar soundtracks. (It’s amazing how I often forget why I entered a room, yet song lyrics and melodies are downloaded for keeps.)
When listening to Creedence Clearwater’s “Proud Mary” while battling a kitchen full of company dinner dishes, I am predictably stripped of my rubber gloves and apron, then propelled back into a foxy white halter dress while stomping on a smoky nightclub dancefloor.
My prized Jefferson Airplane album, which included their big hit “Miracles,” was a mid-1970’s love song to the man who became the father of my children.
The Four Tops’ “(Reach Out) I’ll be There,” is a Motown masterpiece that has long held poignant significance for my firstborn son and I.
Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time” whisks me back to 1983, being pregnant with my second son, and singing the touching lyrics as I readied his nursery.
My old Bakelite 33 1/3 record, “The Anniversary Waltz,” was originally my parents’ devotional song.
Who could ever release these cherished memories? Maybe it’s my collecting nature, a part of me that never wants to let go of that which I’ve loved, but I’m truly glad that these gems stayed with me.
Composer Peter Allen wrote in a song: “Don’t throw away the past, you might need it some rainy day. Dreams can come true again, when everything old is new again.” It’s almost as if the rebirthed record revolution evolved with those lyrics in mind. You see, over the last half-dozen or so years, record collecting/listening has been making a meteoric comeback. While hip Millennials have embraced this “new” craze, it is also a passion that’s being reignited in middle aged adults and baby boomers (who are, after all, the original hipsters).
The good news is, it’s not too late to start redecorating your space with a record player and records. Music is an amazingly therapeutic tool and healthy, happy hobby to (re) adopt. The vinyl quest also gets you out of the house, and then back into your expanding musical pleasure chest.
Start going to thrift shops, garage sales, local record stores, and you’re sure to find the same albums and 45s that once sent you to your very own magic town.
Once you hold those monaural and stereophonic artifacts, studying each cover for its unique and unforgettable graphic art, then take the record carefully in your hands and place it on the turntable (also readily available and affordable today), and voila.
You may be 70, but once “Surfer Girl” or “Johnny Angel” begins playing, you’ll find an age-defying summer place, the most precious memories of your life.
Diana Sevanian is a Valencia resident and longtime Signal features writer and columnist.