So I have entered my fiftieth year, and along with that realisation came all the insecurities and celebrations that go along with it, So begins the mid-life crisis with two maybe three projects that are not necessarily incompatible.
The first is to practice mindfulness on a regular basis and live more in the moment and experience the simple joy of living. Something that my family will benefit from as much as me but is more of a struggle than you may imagine.
The second is to read Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion sequence in order.
The third is to take the time to gather my absolute favorite albums on vinyl and enjoy them.
January and February have been something of preparation for this adventuree.
The Moorcock has been bought and stacked on the bookshelf. It all looks really impressive, a necessary mix of hard and paper back but it is all there, the only exception being Earl Aubec which is in a different addition but I was not able to get myself to pay so much as 80 dollars for a book, although I came close. I began the reading with the Eternal Champion Omnibus, remembering almost every line as I went, playing Hawkwind and Uriah Heep as I read, memories of those teen years when I discovered Moorcock and Hawkwind almost the same month.Then I began Von Bek, a much more serious book, darker, richer and more mysterious. Almost immediately Tom discovered these books and began to read them as well, something that instantly made me feel closer to him. As you can see there are gaps on that shelf.
Along the way I started buying vinyl with no turntable in place. Goodwill can be a terrible place. Well there are two turntables in my home but they belong to Tom and Chris and I wanted this to be my experience with my equipment. I immersed myself in reviews of turntables. Which one was best, direct drive over belt driven, vintage over new. I read again and again how this is an expensive hobby and not for the feint hearted. I looked on craigslist, made plans thought about it agonized and realized I am not necessarily an audiophile and had never really been one. Yes I had always had good stereos but not the most expensive. In a house with five stereos it seemed overkill to head down the expensive road, I also looked at some of the vinyl I had brought from the UK and realized it was all in very good shape particularly considering how it had been played over the years. So those mid-price turntables of the past did not destroy that precious vinyl so it may be a safe gamble.
So the decision was made, get the best quality entry level belt driven deck I could find, I had no intention of using the deck to scratch so belt driven was the preference, also they have less interference. Then which one, no usb turntable, I have some of these albums on CD and mp3 already so why would I rip them, also the desire was to experience the past on some level to revel in the warmth of vinyl. I also wanted an internal pre-amp, so much easier. Again more reviews and then the finances hit in so I got the Audio Technica ATLP60, the reviews were generally good, apart from the audiophiles who are convinced that this deck will tear your vinyl to shreds and leave you with bleeding ears. Yes I know it has limitations and that as I get obsessed with vinyl I may have to upgrade, Ben is counting on this so he can have the turntable.
Well I am sure if I spent two times or four times as much as the $60 I did that I would be happier, spending makes us all happy at the end of the day doesn’t it? It sounds great, that rich warmth of vinyl, occasional pops and clicks included, despite the Bose speakers is an all enveloping experience. But that spending may have labeled me a hipster wannabe.
So then all I have to decide is what are those albums that mean the most to me so I can play them on this fine machine, This is made difficult by having given the majority of my albums to Tom and Chris over the years. I may have to buy them over time which could be fun. Also you have to be careful of what pressing you get, going analog means just that and avoiding those digital transfers to vinyl. Heavens there is so much to think about. They will however be records that have meaning to me not necessarily the greatest records ever made. I do have a liking for the Kinks Preservation Act albums and Floyd’s The Final Cut so you never know what you may see.
Well the mindfulness part may be the most difficult right now. Although listening to an album is a mindfulness exercise, it is much more focused an experience than mp3’s or CD’s in the car. The fact of the muscle memory of placing the disc on the turntable, sitting and listening and then flipping every 15-20 minutes, very relaxing almost like visiting another time period.
Played so far:
Al Stewart, Love Chronicles, Zero She Flies and Orange
Neil Young, After the Goldrush
CSNY, 4Way Street
Yes, They Yes Album