Vinyl Musings

Eartha Kitt listening to her record collection in her Los Angeles home in 1957.

This picture…

It’s glorious in its own right.

It also takes me right back to how, growing up, we used to bring our favorite records over to our friends’ houses and sit on the floor with the records spread all around us – safely, of course, jackets and covers on – and just…play them. Play the whole album, not just the favorite song. Be entranced. Be talking all through it at the same time. Somehow it all meshed together, the sound pouring around and through you as you talked about everything and nothing. Somehow you could listen and speak at the same time, hear and feel, give and take. There was no separation, really.

You do get that with tapes, CDs, mp3s, streaming playlists. Portability and lack of breakability are fine things. So is the opportunity to have a massive collection that fits on the head of a pin, to borrow an allegory (or metaphor).

Still. Because it was records first in my formative years, it is pictures like this, memories like that, that take me right back to the bedroom floors and the record players or old stereo systems and the tactile feeling of the cardboard cover and the vinyl and the tone arm. And then the delicious moment before the needle reaches the beginning of the track, or the unadulterated glee when you manage to drop the needle exactly at the start of the groove.

And then the sound, the glorious sound, bringing with it the exquisite moment of connection with you and the music and the people you are sharing it with on the exact same wavelength at the exact time.

Back to Eartha. I love how she’s sitting back the way you would sit when you’re looking at records on the floor. One could imagine she’d been hunched over just before, pulling out albums. I love the portable record player and the artfully poised record just waiting to drop. And sure, she’s looking at her own records – this is a promotional piece, after all – but it’s a fabulous advertisement for her and her work.

Tangentially, I love how there’s a copy of Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt on the top shelf and a phone cord that has seen heavy use. I’d like to sit with her, see what other albums she has, see what the rest of the room looks like, the rest of the house.

What’s your favorite early-music memory?

Reflections After Day 1 of My Book Launch

As I write this, it’s still the evening of the same day I launched my book, What’s at the End of Your Nose? but I’m feeling all sorts of things that may or may not confine themselves to the appropriate adjectives or descriptors.

Exhilarated. I’m finally living my dream. I’m also trying not to waste time thinking I should have done this long ago. “Should haves” don’t do anyone any good!

Vaguely exhausted. It seemed like every hour, I’d think of something else to do for my book. Which is great! So I’m feeling kind of a combo of having really done a lot today, but I’m happy about it.

Hopeful. Of course I want people to like it, even love it. This is my creation, and it’s been a long time coming.

Wheels turning. I’ve got my next book to proof and format to Amazon’s exact specifications, now that I know more about these rather excruciating constructs. I have two more books where I’ll need an illustrator, not to mention another book I’ve got out to agents right now. . .

Plans planning. What can I do for my book next? There can be no set it and forget it. It means too much.

You know how when you’re with someone new, or you have a new job, or anything that you really enjoy comes into your sphere of existence, suddenly it all fits into your busy life? That’s how I feel right now about being an author.

It should seem impossible, but it doesn’t. Somehow, it just all makes sense.


Copyright 2016 Becky Benishek for “What’s at the End of Your Nose?”

Have some music to enjoy with your day, and please do go check out my book on Amazon. The free Kindle promotion will be ending very soon! And it did. But! The Kindle version is waiting for you all the same! And the paperback doubles as a coloring book.

There Is No “Before” and “After”

In “What it feels like to be the last generation to remember life before the internet,” author Michael Harris posits this:

“If we’re the last people in history to know life before the internet, we are also the only ones who will ever speak, as it were, both languages. We are the only fluent translators of Before and After.

To his credit, the author doesn’t rail against an Internet Demon or anything like that. He’s more anxious about his own plugged-in behavior.

But that premise, quoted above, is false.

It’s also why I get impatient with the “Well, I wasn’t born when that came out, so how could I possibly know about it?” wail.


–I wasn’t born when cylinder records came out, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t figure out how to make them work, how to immerse myself in their operation, and how to enjoy their rather awesome sound quality (and make recordings thereof).

–I wasn’t born when Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake made “This Gun For Hire,” but that didn’t mean I wasn’t able to exercise choice and watch it when it came on TV.

–I also missed pockets of music that were made before I was hatched, but hey, we’ve had YouTube for awhile now, if we don’t have the good fortune to have parents and grandparents with record collections, or the wherewithal to go exploring in record shops on our own (just don’t pay the exorbitant prices for the new “old” vinyl out in bookstores and the like).

I get that there’s a difference between being actually brought up in an era and learning about it rerun-style, but so what?

Time is not a straightforward, linear entity. It’s a mushy-gushy, cyclical, spiral-ly gunk, and the more we try to control it and assign it values, the more we seem to understand it less–and the more we run out of it.

And the more we try to claim that we of <insert-generation-here> are the ONLY ones to do or understand X, Y, or Z, the more ridiculous it sounds, especially since opportunities to learn about everyone’s X, Y, and Zs have always been around!

The means just change, that’s all. It’s always been up to us to look beyond ourselves.

We all want to feel special. Deluding yourself that your generation is a self-sustaining island is not the best way to go about it.

Do you feel, like the author does, that generations born after 1985 are unable to grasp what came before them?