Witnesses of a bygone era


Mass displacement of vinyl disks by other carriers of musical records occurred not so long ago. Back in the early nineties, such disks were being sold with might and main in specialized stores, although cassette tape recorders have long been not so much luxury, as a quite affordable joy of life. Of course, that time not many people could afford themselves to buy an expensive two-cassette tape recorder, and the lucky owners of such devices, which allowed them to copy music from one cassette to another absolutely free and even with acceptable quality, could look at the owners of "single casseters", constantly asking to rewrite one album, then another, indulgently and patronizingly.


Available and cheap Soviet single-cassette tape recorders "Весна", "ВЭФ", "Электроника" sooner or later usually were bought by those who liked to listen to Western performers and at the same time wanted to be able to do this not only at home, where this task was perfectly handled by a massive bobbin tape recorder, but also on the street, outdoors, on the beach, in school after lessons.



Nevertheless, the quality of the concert recorded on the cassette at home was usually poor, and so connoisseurs of good sound did not miss the opportunity to buy a new vinyl disk and occasionally put it on the turntable, and those who were concerned with the safety of audio tracks with increased trembling, right after the purchase they copied the album to a tape, carefully hid the disk back in an album jacket, put it on a shelf, and never got it again so that nor a speck of dust would settle on its surface.


It seemed that these disks would remain at home until the end of time, and therefore some particularly valuable specimens - for example, the collections of Vysotsky`s and Shalyapin`s albums - were never placed on the turntable at all and were never ever taken out of their album jackets. There were no doubts that these boxes with a dozen disks bought with big money will be stored for centuries, symbolizing the luxury that their owner - usually the most ordinary engineer, clerk, intellectual - finally managed to acquire, even at the price of a third or half of his salary.



Today, when even laser CDs came out of everyday use, although in the nineties they launched a decisive offensive on vinyl disks, and virtually any album needed, including one issued in the vinyl-bobbin-cassette era, can be heard without using any audio recording medium at all, but simply by using some site on the Internet, the vinyl disks, perfectly preserved in their huge not crumpled or worn album jackets, look strange and wild, like an ancient cart that was accidentally preserved in the barn and for some reason, almost out of work. They are, indeed, as planned, almost thirty years after the purchase, stay in perfect condition, and therefore one can easily see his reflection in their black mirror surface.


Like almost thirty years ago, those same performers are smiling from the album jacket, and in a short review article on its back, one can read all the same succinctly stated biographies. It`s even amazing that today, when the computers have not only stepped widely into all offices and apartments, but also managed to turn from cumbersome heavy boxes with TV-like displays into laptops with folding screens, which instantly retrieve the desired song from the Web, the vinyl disks are still alive, although they come from time when digital technology only took the first steps into the broad masses of the population, and everywhere the analog devices reigned.



This observation recalls Nabokov`s lines from his memoir book "Speak, Memory", in the Russian version having the name "Another Shores". There he recalls the "endless series of comfortable, good products" that "flowed to us from the English Shop on the Nevsky. There were also cupcakes, snuffs, and poker cards... and in colored stripes sport flannel jackets..." Time, of course, is measured not only by the calendar but also by things. Like the smells of forgotten perfumes, objects that have been out of sight for a long time instantly bring to life the pictures associated with ones - city streets, historical periods, political leaders, television programs.


That`s why vinyl disks, these parcels from the already distant past, can not help but cast a wave of memories of that year and the month when they were bought. And even on the same desk that occupied the same corner in the same room in the same year, there is a relatively new powerful laptop connected to the wireless Internet - the hand still will not rise to throw away in one fell swoop all the dear to the heart vinyl disks occupying in the cabinet a lot of space, which could have been much more useful for books and magazines.



These paper data carriers are also hopelessly outdated and also rapidly turn into museum exhibits, which could be ruthlessly handed over to recycled paper. But too much heart gets attached to all these mute companions of life, which have been together with the owner for dozens of years and have always been faithfully waiting for him in the same place after parting. All the same, storyteller Hans Christian Andersen was right when he endowed things in his tales with the ability to think, feel and talk. They really lead a constant quiet conversation with the owner, which, muffled by the TV, every time then resumes, silently reproaching for the fact that to its unconditional wisdom man preferred a passing fuss and flashing of the current moment.


That`s why I do not want to throw out even old, worn-out vinyl disks in rumpled album jackets, not to mention relatively new and almost unused copies. And if the owner who managed to save vinyl disks could carry through the stormy river of time the turntable too, then, pin and run them, he thereby gives himself a ticket to the years left behind the stern of everyday life, regains the joy of the first listening, feels himself again young, carefree and full of plans for the future.


First posted at Memories and Reflections





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