Thursday, April 14, 2011

In The Groove

My recent venture into the world of classic Hi-Fi motivated me to check out some Estate/Garage sales over the past month or two.  I intended on looking for that "one in a million" 1970's Receiver that was just waiting to be discovered in the basement of an old house...dusty, but in great condition...for the price of ohhhh a gallon of gas?!

I have not yet found such a deal, but I have stumbled across some nicely preserved vinyl Lp's.  Given that most of them sell for between .25 cents and 1.00 dolllar, I started buying a few here and there.  In the world of "iTunes", where a song costs .99 cents a pop, I am getting songs as low as 2.5 cents each!  (For you math whizzes, that's a savings of up to 97.5 % per song!) Take that Apple!!

I am finding I have to look through alot of vinyl to get the few, very clean records that interest me, but I am finding the whole thing interesting/fun.  I usually pick the Estate/garage sales that appear to be the result of elderly folks leaving the residence etc., as these hold the most promise for my purposes.  I drag Sandi along most of the time, and I think she likes poking around in some of the very old, interesting things that are available.

Last weekend, we went to a "basement sale" in the north end of Tacoma, where the homes look out over the Puget Sound.  (The nicer part of town)  We entered the basement of the 1920's house, making sure not to bump our heads on the pipes etc., that hung low from the barely 7 ft ceiling.  It was a small basement, and smelled old, probably like your grandparents house/basement.  There were hundreds of National Geographic Magazines, old tools, canning jars and the like.  In the dimly lit, far corner of the basement, I saw some old Albums.  I looked to my right and saw an old "Gramophone" for sale...the style you see the dog listening to on the record label in the above photo. think, it wasn't an "antique" to these folks, it was the latest technology...back when they played their 1916 78's on it.  Did I say 1916?  Yeah, they had 78's dating back to 1916.

Now, I am not a collector of 78's, as the music style in the 20's and 30' isn't my cup of tea.  However, I could not resist picking up 2 full size (think the size of a 33 1/3 album vs the 10 inch standard 78's)  78's that were in very, very nice condition.  Hell, I didn't even know what the music was that was on these things, I just wanted to have a piece of the 100 year old music history i was looking at.

I thumbed through about 100 other 40's, 50's and 60's vinyl albums and picked out about 12 or so.  They ranged from Connie Francis and Jackie Gleason to Eddy Arnold and Perry Como.  I even found an album I remember from my childhood called "The Singing Nun".  It is a Belgian album and was in excellent condition.  The albums hit single was a song titled "Dominique".  This album contained a 9 or 10 page story, complete with sketched pictures that depicted a real life, young Nun (Soeur Sourire) that sang and played guitar, and her life at the Convent  There were 4 watercolor prints that were painted by Soeur Sourire that were included with the release of this album.  These were not only intact, but in perfect condition!  Another nostalgic find!

Here is an excerpt that briefly describes the real life "Singing Nun", Soeur Sourire:

      Born Jeanne-Paule Marie Deckers, she was a nun in the Dominican Fichermont Convent in Waterloo, Belgium. While in the convent, she wrote, sang and performed her own songs, which were so well received by the order and at retreats that the monastery decided to let her record an album, which visitors and retreatists to the monastery would be able to purchase. 

In 1963, the album was recorded in Brussels at Philips. The single "Dominique" became an international hit. Many radio stations in the U.S. played it and other softer hits more often in the wake of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Overnight, the Dominican nun was an international celebrity with the stage name of Sœur Sourire (Sister Smile). She gave concerts and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on 5 January 1964.[1] As of November 2009[update], "Dominique" is the only Belgian song that has ever been a number one hit single in the United States

Anyway, I am pretty sure my sisters will remember this album, so I thought I would mention it.

After getting home with my new found vinyl "treasures", I give them a good cleaning and replace any worn out sleeves (or missing sleeves) and put them away.  I usually reserve one to listen to as I am cleaning or putting the others away, and this time I chose a Perry Como album.  (Pictured at the top of this posting)  Perry Como is from my Parents generation and like many of you, I find a reassurance and comfort when I listen to old songs that remind me of my childhood.  It is also interesting and memorable to listen to the music that my Mom and Dad listened to/liked when they were a young couple with a house full of kids.  It sets my mind to a good way.

When the needle dropped onto the album, and I heard this song, (Once Upon A Time) I immediately loved it.  I had never heard it before ( I dont remember it) but it immediately struck me as a beautiful song.  It is a melancholy tune that speaks of past moments that cannot be recaptured.  Times and places and feelings...that we can never return to...but will never forget.  When you add to this that it is sung by Perry Como, it is a powerful and sweet song.  Perry Como is one of the finest male singers of the 20th Century, bar none.  He would likely be thrown off of American Idol for a lack of "gimmick/style" these days, but he can "stand and sing" like no one these days can. He has something that synthesized and electronic enhanced singers these days just cant buy, talent.

I decided to include this song here for your enjoyment.  It is not a digital is recorded right off the album, exactly the way I heard it for the first time.  I even included the familiar (to some of us older folks) "needle drop" that comes at the beginning of any album you play. Do yourself a favor, play it loud.  The dynamic range (difference between soft and loud parts) back then was simply much greater than many songs exhibit today.

Once Upon A Time

Have a listen to what sweet violins, a great voice, and good vinyl...sounds like.