So, being the manager of a thrift store has its perks, and one of those is that I have easy access to many old and neat things from bygone eras. I have a vcr (obviously), and a few neat vintage pieces around my condo which my wife has picked out from the store. I have always wanted to purchase a record player, because they somehow held a facination for me-I still don’t really understand how they operate, but the fact that the information is actually contained on the surface of the disk is amazing to me. Digital files contained on cds, or now simply memory sticks or cards, is truly detrimental to music collectors everywhere. There is something amazing and connecting about listening to a record and watching it spin, with the needle gliding across the surface. It is as though you are listening to the artist directly through a connective tissue. It seems so much more authentic and genuine. Also, what I think is the best part about listening to a record is the intentionality about it. With a cd, and more so with your computer, you can simply place your music on random and let it play. A record you must choose, much like you would choose what book to read, or what movie to watch. Once you have made this decision, you cannot simply put the record on and forget about it. You listen to half-then you have to flip the record to listen to the other side. Records are made to be listened to-they are not merely background music for easy consumption.
What is also rather special about listening to records is the connectivity to the past. I am listening to records from the 40s and 50s-records that were undoubtedly listened to by people of that era. Music that was enjoyed in a 40s and 50s style household, with the bad hair, tacky wicker furniture, and enthusiasm for life and society. You can sense the culture and society through the music. Perhaps because technology had not reached where it is today, the singing and music seems to be much more honest. It is not perfect, but it is marvelous! One of the issues that I have with a great deal of modern music is that it is too perfect. Modern musicians release albums that present their music as absolutely flawless-both in voice and instrumentation. I do not want to sound hipster (because hipster irks me a great deal), but records seem so much more authentic to me.
I suppose I should relate this to my blog title in a way. I think that records are a way to get into touch with a past that saw people gather around a record player to listen together. It was a time when technology gathered families-much as my father has told me stories about his family gathering around the radio when he was a child, or my father-in-law telling me about how his family went to his neighbour’s house to watch the fancy new colour television. Now technology is often what divides us. We stare at our phones and computers-everything is made for single user purposes. I believe that being a gentleman is, at the core, about caring about others. This, more than anything else. Yes, there are many other aspects that are associated with being a gentleman, but relationships are key. If I do not spend time with my wife, cherish her and spend time with her (even simply listening to an old record of the musical Bell Rings!), I am not a gentleman. A gentleman uses objects to gather, not to separate. My loves range from cooking, to dressing well, to listening to old records. These things connect people. I feel connected to my wife when we sit down and enjoy a delicious meal together that I have been able to create. I feel connected with those who walked before me when I show them respect through reading their stories and philosophies, and using their tools, toys, and creations. Wisdom comes from connectivity.