Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weird Al on Vinyl

So, I'm visiting my parents for the long weekend. As boredom begins to set in, I find myself in front of the computer...my Dad's computer, to be specific. A few years back, my siblings and I put our money together and we got our Dad one of these USB turntables...you know, a record player that you plug into your computer, so you can convert your record collection into MP3s.

As I sit here, my gaze wanders over to this USB turntable, and I figure I'll take advantage of this opportunity to listen to my only "Weird Al" Yankovic record. As you know, I'm a gigantic Weird Al fanboy. I have cassettes, I have CDs, I've got digital albums, and finding Weird Al on vinyl is a bit of a sacred quest for me. In every thrift shop and garage sale I visit, I sift through the vinyl looking for, say, Dare to Be Stupid. So far, I only have one Weird Al record, and it was fate that dropped it in my lap.

So, around 12 or 13 years ago, I was a carefree college student at Augustana University. I was renowned on campus...I was Captian Hot Stuff, Mr. #1 DJ on the campus radio station. I was one of the few announcers who actually did show prep. I would always show up at the staton one hour before my show, and spend some time going through the campus radio station's music collection.

The music library was a mess, to say the least. One wall was floor to ceiling of nothing but radio samplers. "Radio samplers" are special compliation albums that record labels send out to radio stations, containing most of the singles being released that month. The other three walls were nothing but albums, sent out by aspiring artists hoping for that first big break. It was all one, disorganized, chaotic pile. Many a station manager was hired on the promise of getting it organized, and many a station manager went mad and walked away from the station after a month of attempted organizing.

There was also another room in the station with a massive wooden cabinet. Inside that cabinet, was the station's record collection. I'd go through the records when I was feeling very adventurous. Usually, it wasn't worth it, as the station's record players were very hit-and-miss. Some nights they worked, others, they didn't. Some times, the fates aligned perfectly, like when I found the Star Wars soundtrack in that cabinet and was able the Cantina Song on vinyl. That was a good show.

On this one night, I wasn't going through the record cabinet, but my eye was drawn towards a plastic tub. In one attempt to get things organized, a former station manager had put all the 45s in a plastic tub. I'd put on a long song, the phone lines were quiet that night, so I reached into the tub. And I pulled out....

the 45 of I Lost on Jeopardy.

My jaw dropped. I tired to play it, but it was a "miss" night for the station's record players. Now, when I first started at the campus station, the station manager once lamented how all the good albums are stolen as soon as they come in, so I swore that I would never swipe an album for the station.

However, my inner fanboy wouldn't stay silent. Needless to say, that 45 came home with me that night.

I wasn't able to listen to it until I got home and was able to fire up Dad's record player. The record sleeve said the b-side was supposed to be I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead, but it wasn't. It's just I Lost on Jeopardy on both sides.

And as I sit here, listening to it, I can't help but smile. Vinyl sounds good. It does seem to be a richer sound. And all the pops and hisses of an old record seem to add character.

I love reading how vinyl is currently experiencing a brief resurgance. I read the statistic the other day that 2009 was the best selling year for records since 1991. There's even some records I wouldn't mind getting. The soundtrack for Watchmen was released on vinyl...it's already been announced that the soundtrack for Iron Man 2 is going to be released on vinyl.

Weird Al is currently in the studio, working on his next album. Here's hoping he'll release his next one on vinyl, so my quest will be a little bit easier.

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