It was twenty years ago today
- Published on Wednesday, 09 September 2009 09:56
- Written by Martin Rep
At my local cd-seller’s, as from today I can buy all my old Beatles records for just 299 euros. Or, who gives a darn, for 249 euros.
That’s an offer you cannot refuse. Fourteen studio albums, for some 21 euros (or US dollars - who gives a darn) each. Digitally remastered. The old mono recordings of Till There Was You or Please Please Me now sound just like they were recorded in 2009, but with the genuine sound of 1963, or 1964.
Granddaddy closes his eyes and his mind wanders back to that winter of 1964. I was eighteen years old and I had saved weeks of my pocket money to buy the long play record ('33 r.p.m. mini-groove’) Beatles For Sale. It cost 18 Dutch guilders. In real money nowadays, that would be 8,50 euros, but everybody knows that for 18 Dutch guilders in 1964 you could buy a lot more than you can buy now for 8,50 euros. Or even for 18 euros.
Better, let’s go back to 1967. At the time, I had my first job at a local newspaper in an Amsterdam suburb. Since I earned some money, and since I was addicted to rock and roll in general and the Beatles in particular, I spent the better part of my pay to records. Nice, vinyl records. Every week I bought a magazine called New Musical Express, which was for sale in Amsterdam, to keep myself up-to-date of the latest news of rock-Mecca - i.e. England. In NME, I read an advertisement of a man who sold UK records. You would write him a letter, he would send you the record, and not until then you had to send him a money order. (Of course, this guy, Francis J. Tandy, had to stop this business after half a year or so, because most of his clients were not exactly the honest type.)
This way, in the late spring of 1967, I ordered the new Beatles record Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Cub Band at Francis J. Tandy’s.
So, I was the very first person in the Netherlands who owned this record. One week before the official release. I remember I went to some birthday event with that brand-new record, carelessly under my arm. Those eyes! Those jaws dropping open!
It is much more than twenty years ago today, but I still have that record, which made history. It features some of the best compositions ever written, such as When I Am Sixty-Four and A Day In The Life.
I still play the songs, and even rather often. But do I use that old vinyl record? I am afraid not. I bought it again some time ago, and this new one is not even a compact disc in cold plastic with a jewel case around it; no, I just acquired a number of digits at the iTunes Store, and the voices of John, Paul, George and Ringo (yes, the latter does the vocals on With A Little Help From My Friends on that record) now come out of my 160 Gb iPod Classic.
Every now and then, I dig up that old piece of vinyl, and I look at it. It is just sooo beautiful, and I am sure that it is still completely intact, even though I played it numerous times - I always guarded over it like an old lady over her virginity.
But I will not put it on the record player anymore. The media has become obsolete, while the message is just as fresh as it was Yesterday.
It is just like that old bamboo mahjong set, which we all still cherish since it is so beautiful. You just don’t use it anymore. A mahjong set today comes in cold plastic - but what a great way to build a straight wall with that cold plastic. Much better than with those old tiles I learned to play with, twenty years ago today.
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