The Music Lies in the Grooves, The Groove Lies in the Music

It’s funny how you can be reading a book or listening to a song and the words fit into what is going on in your life.

When I was reading David Byrnes’s book “How Music Works” I read about psychoacoustics and how the mind tricks the ears.

While I was reading about this subject I had a very noticeable experience with psychoacoustics.

One night as I was going through my vinyl records I noticed that I could really tell which albums I bought after I was married.  They are the ones in very good condition with the covers and sleeves almost in mint condition and the actual vinyl records are not scratched.

When I got married my wife and I received about $500 in cash as wedding gifts.  That’s equal to about $1700 in today’s economy.  Now I was 21 and she was 20 when we got married, and she was cool with taking the money and finally buying some quality stereo equipment.  No wonder I married this woman, how I love her.

So because I had higher end audio gear I made sure the records were properly cared for and properly handled.

My collection up to that point was played on an old Sears’ stereo and the records were stacked and played one after the other.

This night I picked out “Music From Big Pink” by The Band.BigPink2

I always loved that record and still do but I hadn’t played this vinyl record for well over 30 years.

Now my expectations were for the same quality of sound that I was getting from my post wedding albums like Donald Fagen’s “The Nightfly”.  Maybe not the same but at least close.  I don’t know why but that’s what I was expecting.

I gave the record a good cleaning and looked it over.  Just one or two scratches on Side One and Side Two looked pretty good.  I started with Side Two.

I was disappointed with the sound.  It wasn’t as crisp and clean as I was anticipating.  Since the record looked clean I just assumed that I had literally played the grooves off the record.

I stopped and took a minute to look over the album cover.  That’s something I really miss with digital downloads.  You use to put the record on the turntable and sit there and look at every square inch of the cover and the sleeve while listening.  Bi-fold album covers were the best.

I looked for the copyright date to see when this album was made.  For some reason I was surprised that Big Pink was recorded in 1968.

Wow I was only 11 years old.  No wonder I wasn’t turned on to The Band and this album until nine years after its release.

This got me to thinking about the recording technology available in 1968.  My guess is at best it was recorded on eight tracks but probably less.

Suddenly I had a whole new appreciation for what I was listening to.  The realization gave me a whole new perspective.

Then the psychoacoustics kicked in.

The sound became much better.  It all fit together and it wasn’t due to my expectations being lowered.

My point of context was adjusted to fit the time.

The music was once again working it’s magic on me just like it did 30 years ago.

It made me remember a section from David Byrnes book that I had just read the day before, “realness and soul lies in the music itself, not in the scratches and pops of old records.”

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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