Thursday, April 06, 2006

Reflections on vinyl

I lost a lot things in Hurricane Katrina. Our pre-K lives melted like the Wicked Witch of the West when the floodwater filled New Orleans. And even though it's been more than seven months, I still, on occasion, miss some of my stuff.

Things like my albums. I'm talking 12-inch vinyl discs, lovingly stored in paper sleeves tucked into cardboard jackets. What we used to call "LPs" for long-playing records. I had a whole bunch of Beatles records, and lots of 70's and 80's pop.

Sure, I know I can easily replace those Beatles records with newly burned CDs, but it's just not the same. Records were 12-inches in diameter, so the covers were big, too. A lot of them opened up so that you got plenty of photos, notes and lyrics. The tiny art and booklets they put in CDs just don't compare.

And there were a lot of albums in my collection that simply cannot be replaced in the laser age. I had a copy of "N.O. Experience Necessary," a compilation of local new-wave and punk bands from the late 70's. You just can't buy anything by The Mechanics, The Driveways and The Backstabbers nowadays.

I had a full set of Blondie, too. I could probably get "Parallel Lines" on disc, and I might even be able to get "Plastic Letters" and the debut "Blondie," but it would not be the same. And all my DEVO albums--gone. In a way, De-evolution finally caught up with the spudboys.

I had some fun stuff, too. Like "The Story of Star Wars," which was a combination of the movie soundtrack and narration from "Episode IV: A New Hope." When I bought that album, we had no idea there would be sequels and prequels. Luckily, I played that one for my Precious Daughter a few months before the storm, so at least she got to hear it one time.

Books are something else I miss. I'll never replace my high school year book. And I'll never replace my Army Basic Training photo book. Who will ever believe I fired an M-60 machine gun without those pictures to prove it?

I had a few autographed books, too. Nobody really, really famous, but they were special to me anyway. For instance, I had a signed copy of Mel Leavitt's "History of New Orleans."

I lost a lot of furniture in the flood, but it's not the same. We had two almost new sofas in our house, and a fine dining table. These items alone were worth thousands of dollars more than my entire collection of books and record albums. But I just don't pine for my furniture. I don't find myself wistfully thinking, "Man, I'll never sleep in that bed ever again." I don't long to sit in the big blue chair and put my feet up on the ottoman. I guess those things can all be easily replaced.

I should not complain, though. We all got out alive, healthy and untraumatized. And as I wrote a while back, I was able to salvage some of my CD collection, even if they are somewhat smelly. But that was just part of my music collection. I have virtually nothing pre-1988 when I joined the digital music revolution.

I can't help it--I miss my albums. It makes me sad to know that I will probably never again drop a needle into the groove of "Serfin' USA" by Bas Clas, or rock to the frenzied energy of The Angry Samoans.

One record I did not have, and I'll be glad if I never hear again, is anything by Katrina and the Waves. I bet you can guess why!


metablogger said...

I'm just making a list of the books I lost too and it hurts. At least we have ebay to help find some of those lost treasures. I visited the house on Lundi Gras--look for link to pics in this post:
I hope to spend more time in NOLA this summer.

Laurie said...

After you finally get settled into a new home, you can make a fine hobby of scouring the internet and E-Bay to replace your albums and books. Of course, you can't replace the autographs and photos, but you might actually be able to find a high school yearbook, too.

Adrastos said...

Nice piece, Tim. Before I learned that my house was okay, I was more worried about my music collection, books and computer equipment than anything else. I only told a few people when we were in exile because I knew most people would think I was a weirdo. I am but not in *that* way...

Also, loved your piece in the TP last week.

Bas Clas said...

Hello Tim,my name is Ted Cobena and I am the drummer for Bas Clas.I came across your web blog and read the part about you losing your copy of our record "Serfin'USA".Well... I have in my hand a rare and vintage copy of that record(jacket included) and all I need is an address and I'll send it to you straight away.I can be reached at

BTW the band has re-united and will be playing at Grant St.Dancehall in Lafayette on Dec. 22,2006. You could pick up the record there.