Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Back to Basics

It's a dreary nasty day here in the glorious wonderland that is north Mississippi.  It's neither cool enough for jackets and heaters, or warm enough for short sleeves and sitting on the patio.  In fact, today is suitable for only one thing, and that thing is a pounding headache, which I have.  Thanks, Nature.  And no, all those beautiful pristine tropical waterfalls and so forth do not make up for today.

Even my dogs are listless and mildly annoyed.  Thor just looked out the window and growled at the sky.  Lou Ann hasn't budged from her (my) chair.  Max and Fletcher are parked on the couch, unconscious and determined to stay that way.

I'm trying to write, but not having much luck. Something about the sullen, lead-grey sky just squashes the words before I can get them typed.  Which is another strike against Nature, and one which only strengthens my resolve to one day build a windowless writing room far beneath the surface, a room reachable only by elevator and pizza delivery man.  I don't need the sky messing with my head.  I've got plenty of things inside my head messing with me already.

I have done a couple of marketing type things lately.  All the Paths of Shadow now has its own Facebook page.  Meralda and Mug are frequent posters there, so if you're interested in interacting with them, hit the Paths of Shadow Facebook page by clicking here.  And yes, that really is Mug, and that really is Meralda, so hit the page and say hi!

In completely unrelated news, I'm adding a new component to the Temple of Boom, which is my nickname for my stereo.  I've come full circle, gentle readers -- I listened to vinyl as a kid, then eagerly took up CDs when they premiered.  When iTunes came along, I embraced that too.

And now I'm turning full circle.  CD production is down.  Most music is sold in digital format, as a download.

But I'm heading back to vinyl.

There are a lot of reasons for my change.  And I'm not abandoning digital music.  I'll still listen to my iPod  and my PC.  Heck, I'm listening now -- Alan Parson, 'Turn it Up,' from the 'Try Anything Once' album.

But a while back I came across an old Crutchfield catalog and I remembered how much fun I used to have messing about with my sound gear.  It was a serious hobby, or at least as serious as it could be on my tiny budget.  But I knew receivers and speakers inside and out.  The specs meant something, and getting the most accurate sound for your money was a blast.

I was all about listening to the music back then.  Really listening.  Starting at Track 1 and going all the way through the album, just as the band intended.

I realized something, thumbing through that 1989 Crutchfield stereo catalog. Somewhere along the way between CDs and iTunes, I stopped listening to music.

Oh, it's always playing nearby.  I put iTunes on shuffle and let it go.  And I'm listening, sort of.

But I've heard these songs a million times.  They've become background noise.

So I'm turning back the clock.  No, I'm not going to buy my entire collection on vinyl all over again.  With a few rare exceptions, everything I get on vinyl is going to be new.

And I'm going to sit down and start with Track 1 and listen to the whole album, song by song.  No pause.  No shuffle.  No fast-forward.

Old school, baby.

My new turntable is a Audi-Technica AT-LP60.  Nothing fancy.  It doesn't convert vinyl tracks to MP3s, it doesn't let you choose track order, it doesn't do anything but play records.

And I'm buying my new music from Fat Possum Records, which shares my home in Oxford, Mississippi.  I like supporting locals.  And they offer a good mix of rock and blues.

My first album is Believers, by AA Bondy.  I haven't heard it yet.  The album is here, but not the turntable.

I'll let you guys know how it all goes.  I can't wait to cue the record up and let the stylus drop for the very first time, all over again.

Stay groovy, kids.  Hit the Paths of Shadow Facebook page!


  1. LOL, seems to be a lot of people going back to records. We still have all our old records. Maybe we should get a player.

  2. My brand new Audio-Technica turntable was only 90 bucks. It had rave reviews on Amazon, too. I did get an upgrade stylus, but that only cost another 20. I haven't set it all up yet, but I'll blog about how it sounds over the weekend!