It isn’t spring, and I am not cleaning

19 01 2011

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

Late last summer, my uncle died. My mom had the responsibility of taking care of all his affairs. While I will spare most of the details, she did shoulder off three of his turntables onto me. I don’t own a single LP, so three turntables is beyond superfluous. For six months those hulking relics of the analog dynasty sat along side my bed, collecting clothes, magazines and dust as my anxiety level, due to the clutter, rose exponentially higher. It wasn’t the new dust that bothered me so much, but the old, and the detritus of an existence I really had nothing to do with. I hadn’t talked to my uncle in two years, probably, maybe more; he was a certified hoarder.

For the last two days, my to-do list including dealing with the turntables. Today, as construction people tear up and repair things in bedrooms and bathrooms in my house, stirring up all kinds of irritants, I figured it couldn’t get much worse, so why not go for it. With “I Am the Walrus” inexplicably running through my head, I went about removing the bubble wrap and yellowed newspaper I assume my mom had taped around the first play. I decided it would be a good idea to see if the thing even worked. Only problem: I don’t own a power amplifier to drive the tunes from the turntable. So I plugged it into the auxiliary jacks on my computer recording interface, hoping that would do the trick.

I know I said I don’t own any LPs, and that’s true. Luckily, Julia does. She has two boxes of them in our hallway. I kneeled down to one and let out a big sigh, and in doing so a giant cloud of dust and cobwebs, along with the smell of neglect and dank garage, rose up to greet me. Evidently I would have to wash the dust away from this music before it could in turn wash the dust off my soul.

So I moved on to the second box. I flipped through records by Boy George (hey, they’re not mine), Bananarama and Elvis Costello, and as if some magic hand guided me, came across Magical Mystery Tour. Goo goo goo job.

Running through my digital setup, not much sound came out of the monitors, but I could here the thin mix coming from the stylus itself and recognized the horns from the title track, though at a much higher pitch. The switch was set to 45; I changed it to 33, and it Paul’s voice went back to normal. I suspect I still need a classic power amplifier to be sure the turntable works properly. So on one hand, I totally wasted my time. Yet, on the other hand, it was the first time I had ever hear a Beatles LP. Looking at it that way, it was a pretty awesome waste of time.