There’s Groove in Them Grooves

Greetings once again, dear readers of The East Nashvillian magazine.

     I have consumed a half pot of coffee and an orange and just finished listening to sides one and two of Donny Hathaway’s long playing 33 1/3 rpm record, “Extension of a Man,” part of this Sunday morning’s easy vinyl soundtrack.
     Which brings me to the topic for this month’s column . . .

     Records: mysterious, romantic grooves full of sound.
     I love thee.

     I love walking to the shelves, scanning the covers. What do I want to hear? First record this morning, something mellow to go with coffee.
     Bill Evans Trio Live’s “Waltz for Debbie.”
     Evans’ subtle playing warms up my brain and happiness fills the room. A moment in time, 1964: Glasses clinking, voices murmuring softly, I am there. I’m in the audience, listening, maybe on a date with my beautiful girl.
     Aaaah, records . . .

     The following is a true story.

     I went to a 4th of July pool party full of fun, food, laughter, bikinis, and more than one beer. When I got home, it was not time for a nightcap, nor was it sleepy time. No, this called for more than a nightcap — a night sombrero, perhaps.
     Straight to the stack for the soundtrack. “Van Halen II” of course. Turn it up! I did just that, more and more. I was having a party with Eddie and Diamond Dave! Blew a tweeter somewhere around the outro to “D.O.A.” I had a replacement tweeter . . . five minutes later? “Fair Warning,” “Mean Street” for the win!
     Such is the power of records. That tweeter blowing late night VH party might as well have been July 4th, 1989, just out of high school, on fire and wide open; music for young people, by young people. Too loud? Never! “Fair Warning” spinning on the turntable took me there.
     Records are like that. The grooves hold memories. Your old pals, your old flame. The time you packed eight people in a Chevy Chevette and drove eight hours to go to the show. Records sound great, with their big, dimensional sound. I love ‘em.
     I have digital music but I prefer a clean record every time, both sonically and philosophically. They are a direct link from the band to me.
     Played and recorded, pressed at the plant and shipped to the record store. Then comes the treasure hunt through the shelves and hurrying home. Drop the needle and there it is — from a spinning tape machine to my spinning turntable.
     That is sexy. That turns me on. That is real.
     When you buy an MP3, what have you got? Space on a hard drive or something invisible in an imaginary Internet cloud, I think?

     MP3s: zeros, ones, algorithms that don’t sound good.
     I suck at math.

      Records are tangible. I can see, hear and touch them. A record is a physical artifact of a moment in time. Donny Hathaway is no longer with us, but he was with me this morning in my living room. His music, his voice. Dimensional, real and alive.
     You can’t hold an MP3 in your hands and dig on the artwork or the picture of the band recording in some exotic studio location like Montserrat or Switzerland or London or New York City. Nope. You can’t read the liner notes to learn which musician played the solo that really captured your ear.
     Turn off the computer. Turn on the turntable!
     In closing, dear reader, I leave you with point five of the foolproof five point seduction plan of ladies’ man and ticket scalper Mike Damone from the classic Cameron Crowe film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High: “And five, now this is the most important, Rat. When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of ‘Led Zeppelin IV.’”

     Get your groove on, East Nashville. Happy listening!

— Once Hags’ dreams of being a musician had been trampled upon by the hard realities of life, he decided to become a bass player. When he’s not in the studio, Hags can be seen eight nights a week playing around town with pretty much everybody. Fortunately, he still finds time to provide The East Nashvillian with his “astute observations” about life here in the promised land.

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