Friday, February 25, 2011

buying a 78 (Nov. 6, 2006)

Current mood: surprised

My son has taken to playing "We'll Meet Again" on the ukulele incessantly for the past few days. The song was a huge hit for Benny Goodman in the 1940s. Since my daughter is also very much into the clarinet at the moment, I thought it would be trés cool if I could play for them the original 78 rpm record featuring Benny, with vocals by a very young Peggy ("Is That All There Is?" and "[Gimme] Fever") Lee.

Alas, my extensive 78s collection was missing that precious recording! Horrors! (Doesn't everyone have thousands of 78s in the house, with a 78rpm-capable phonograph or two sitting at the ready?)

Armed with knowledge of that void, and finding myself in my local used record shop this morning, I decided I'd get them a "just because" present and see if I could find that 78.

I stroll in and make a beeline to the 78s department. The shop used to be a nightclub, and the 78s occupy what was once the stage. The lights are normally off, since so few people peruse 78s. They're arranged in no order at all -- literally stacks of disks, easily 10,000 -- not separated by genre, artist, decade, or even size of disk. Most don't have envelopes, though usually the labels are readable. Yes, you can turn the lights on. I didn't bother.

I hadn't a hope of finding that record, let alone expectation that I might get out of there in less than three hours. Imagine trying to find a friend's house "somewhere within 10 miles" without address, directions, or a description of the house. (I was on foot, and every 78 weighs half a pound, so that somewhat limited what I could carry out of there.)

Nevertheless, I started flipping through a stack of 10" shellac disks. I doubt I touched 75 records, maybe not even 50. Bingo, there it was! It couldn't have taken me two minutes.

Fifty cents.

I bought a Peggy Lee LP to go along with it. (Do I really have to explain what an LP is?)

[Side note to MySpace: The "Tell us what you're ... listening to" does not very well accommodate those of us who listen to 65-year-old records on 50-year-old equipment.]

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