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For the record, the kid knew his rock ‘n’ roll

Was the music better or we’re just nostalgic?

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

The young clerk in the book store wore a Led Zeppelin T-shirt. It was the one with the Zeppelin on it, the group’s first album cover.

“That album came out in 1969. Did you ever listen to it, or are you just wearing a nice-looking T-shirt?” I asked him jovially.

The store was not busy. We could talk for a short time without holding up the line.

He was checking out some used vinyl LPs I bought for a really good price – just a couple of dollars each. They had the brand new ones there sealed in original packaging for a lot more. I stay away from those. I am always looking for a deal.

The nice thing about used records is that you can take them from the sleeve and look them over to make sure there are no scratches on the grooves or any other damage. If there is, I put it back and go to the next one.

I still buy vinyl to add to my modest collection. Modest because some people have walls covered with records. I just have enough to fill a few drawers. I like playing them, the interaction between me and generating the music. It is a physical process, not just zeros and ones.

I have written before about how I enjoy telling whoever will listen how sound is generated from a piece of plastic with grooves on it. A lot of times I lose my audience right as I get to the vibrations being picked up by a stylus (needle) and then amplified as the signal is sent to the loudspeaker.

I shall go no further, so don’t stop reading. I may find this more interesting than most people.

What prompted this column theme was a meme on Facebook of a Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy” album with the writing across it: “The reason people say vinyl sounds better … is because the music was better.”

Maybe so, for my generation, but a lot of great music followed that era. And there was a lot of mediocre stuff then also. We only are nostalgic over the good ones - like Led Zeppelin.

“What’s your favorite Led Zeppelin song” I asked the clerk.

“Stairway to Heaven,” he replied.

That was too easy. Everyone who listens to the group would say that. It never did much on the Top 40 charts when the Album “The Song Remains the Same” was released in 1971 because Pop radio stations did not want to devote eight minutes to one song.

It did get played on the less-affluent FM stations, but AM ruled the Top 40.

“I saw Led Zeppelin in 1974 in Madison Square Garden,” I started on my story, hoping to finish at least the abbreviated version before someone needed to be checked out.

“Robert Plant had laryngitis and couldn’t sing worth a darn, but we didn’t care. We just wanted to see them perform live.”

“How did you get the tickets?” he asked.

I went to the Macy’s Ticketron outlet and got lucky. Their main computer went down, and when it came back up, all of us in line were able to get four tickets each, and they cost $7 a piece, as I remember,” I continued with my story.

The store was getting busier, and we had to end what was for me a great trip down memory lane.
I’ve got to admit. The kid knew his stuff. I enjoyed talking with him, although briefly.

Then I went home and listened to some Led Zeppelin on vinyl. Maybe the meme was right about the music being better back in those days.

Agree or disagree, drop me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com.