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May 11, 2016

Music to my ears

By Dom Cioffi
One of the first jobs I had as a teenager was at a local record store (of course, this was back when record stores actually specialized in selling records). It was a huge thrill to be around all that music, to talk about music and to enlighten people about music.
My infatuation with the music world began early in life as I used to watch my older brother act out his rock star fantasies in his bedroom. My brother was an accomplished air guitarist and spent countless hours dropping the needle on albums featuring Steely Dan, Peter Frampton and Eric Clapton and then mimicking their respective guitar solos.
I grew to love much of the same music as my brother and followed suit with his bookish knowledge of trivia related to his favorite artists. “See this lyric right here,” he would proclaim while pointing to the liner notes of an album. “This is where the Beatles first hinted that Paul McCartney was dead.”
Over the years, I accumulated an impressive record collection myself. And when I worked at the record store, that collection grew tenfold due to our generous employee discount. Of course, there was no sense having all those records if you didn’t have a great sound system, so I spent a fair amount of money on a pair of gigantic speakers, a high-quality turntable and a number of other accessories meant to deliver the best possible listening experience.
That massive record collection and sound system followed me to college and into my first apartments. And even though I complained every time I had to move those overweight milk crates full of albums, I still did it dutifully, knowing that my life would seem far less exciting if I didn’t have my music.
Of course, I had to be mobile with my music so I became quite adept at recording mix tapes in cassette format. Ultimately, I owned several suitcases that housed my cassette collection, carefully organizing them by name, genre and year of release.
And then came CDs. Foolishly, I fell prey to the digital quality hype and went on to repurchase half of my record collection in this new format. It didn’t take long for my CD collection to become as massive as my record collection. Now I was moving even more product every time I switched living locations.
Finally we reached the age of iTunes (when the idea of an album officially faded away). Nowadays, every piece of music I have ever owned can fit onto a 3” x 5” handheld device.
But have I excised all of those useless albums, cassettes and CDs? Of course I haven’t. They are all still housed in the attic of my home collecting dust, most of them going on decades since they were last played.
Recently, my son and I were visiting a bookstore where there was a rack of reissued albums for sale. My son walked by and looked at them and then inquired what they were. I was initially surprised that he didn’t know, but then I realized that his generation had no frame of reference when it came to this dated distribution method.
I went into a grand explanation of what vinyl was and how it worked and told him about my own collection hidden in the attic of our house. When we got home, he coerced me into showing it to him.
I pried open several cardboard boxes and pulled out selections that brought back fond memories and reviewed them with my son. I was reminded just how alluring it was to hold an album, to marvel at the artwork, and to read the lyrics on the dust cover liner notes.
My son has now decided that he wants to hear an album and I have to admit, so do I. So, I suspect I’ll be on Amazon.com within the next few weeks searching for a new turntable set-up that makes all that possible.
This week’s film, “Everybody Wants Some!!” featured a soundtrack that I’m almost certain I could have put together with my own record collection. Every song was a direct hit to my youth, with each selection stirring feelings of teenage angst.
Directed by Richard Linklater (“Dazed & Confused,” “Boyhood”) “Everybody Wants Some!!” follows the exploits of a college baseball team as they embark on a new school year in 1980. The entire film is set on the first weekend before classes start and encompasses a multitude of diverse parties that the team attends.
This film will play well to anyone who came of age in the late 70s and early 80s. However, anyone outside of that group will find little frame of reference and may ultimately bore from the incessant party and hook-up scenes. Not much is accomplished with this film other than setting the tone for the time period.
Check this one out if you’re feeling nostalgic and want to remember the uninhibited debauchery of partying 30+ years ago. Otherwise follow the rest of the world to check out the new Captain America film.
A foul “C+” for “Everybody Wants Some!!”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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