We live in a time of awesome musical opportunity. Never before in our history as a species with two ears, two legs and a ton of bones to shake have we been able to access so much recorded music for free or at a ridiculously low price.
When I was growing up in the 1970’s, I would hear a song I liked on my little AM/FM radio, and if I wanted an actual record to play at home, I had to scrape up some dough and buy it.
This made going to the record store an adventure. I started out at 10-years-old, buying 45 rpm singles. There was a little music store about 10 blocks from my apartment in Jamaica, Queens. It was 1974. The store was filled with several rows of wooden displays, filled to the brim with 45s. Tons of them. I’d run in and flip through hundreds of them, looking for some magical song I’d heard on my little blue transistor radio. Or maybe I'd discover something mysterious and unknown. Some random song with a cool, catchy title. Or a really cool group dressed in wild 70's outfits, leaping from the record sleeve.
What would I find? I didn't have much money, so I really had to choose wisely. Pouring through rows and rows of little vinyl circles, discovering artists and songs I’d never heard before, getting lost in the smell and the vibe of the store... it was an adventure; it was a meditation; it was a passion…
The 45s had really cool graphics on their labels—they were colorful, had eye-catching designs and logos, and many had sleeves with more graphics and photos of the artist.
This was the 1970’s, so everything was funky…
After getting a few 45s, I'd run home and up to my room in our 4th floor Queens apartment and play them on my little white plastic Sanyo record player. It was too small and funky to be called a “stereo system”—even thought it had two detachable speakers and three knobs. It looked more like a toy from a space cartoon.
Then came the magic. Dropping the needle on the “A” side and feeling the music enter my ears and my little body…it was an adventure in sound and discovery.
I had stacks of 45s, since they were cheaper than albums and I was more into 1970’s R&B, pop, disco, funk and soul (before I turned 13 and discovered classic rock and the glory of the “Long Playing” (LP) record album...).
Other than what was on the radio, this was how I opened new musical doors. 45 rpm singles. Two songs on each. The “A” side would usually have the hit I’d heard on the radio and the “B” side would be a mystery song; sometimes even cooler than the hit song.
I’d pop these black vinyl 45 rpms on and listen and dance while soaking up the magic sounds of 70’s soul, funk, pop, R&B and whatever else I could find.
And so many more...
Yes, those truly were the days…