The Rolling Stones tucked a fun little ditty at the end of their 1966 album Between The Buttons which has become a sort of soundtrack to a real life occurrence that happened to me recently while visiting The Friends of San Francisco Public Library's annual book and media sale. Some of the song's lyrics went like this:
"Something happened to me yesterday,
Something, I can't speak of right away"
"No one's sure just what it was...
Or the meaning and the cause."
Truly, it was a "face-palm" moment, in an Internet sense of things... And I wasn't sure what to do with this tale for the better part of the week.
"He don't know if it's right or wrong.
Maybe he should tell someone.
He's not sure just what it was... "
Well, I've decided to share this hopefully inspiring little tale from the tech center of the universe with you, Dear Readers. I am sharing it because I realize that we all may have something to learn from it. And perhaps it will inspire some of you to take a more active role in educating people on the history and joys of our beloved audio hobby.
So, this scenario that follows really played out before me while I was looking through the stacks of used vinyl record albums that patrons donated to raise funds for the Library at their sale.
Two 20-something "millenials" (if you will) show up and are looking at records in the box opposite me. I don't like to fall back on stereotypes but let me just say these guys looked like they could have been extras on the TV show The Big Bang Theory.
We affectionately call them "techies" here in San Francisco. Its a thing.
So, one of them is trying to explain to the other about vinyl records as he is flipping through the stack. The other one seems utterly fascinated to learn that these discs contain music on them.
Of course, hearing this discussion, my ears perk up and I'm sort of watching all this unfold out of the corner of my eye....
Then, the bewildered and fascinated looking one picks up a record from the stack (I think it was a 12-inch single by Howard Jones). As he pull out the disc from its sleeve, he is genuinely looking at it as if he's seeing a vinyl record for the first time... ever.
The friend nods affirmatively...
Then, the curious one says to his friend in all seriousness:
"How do they encode these discs?"
This is the point where the brain of your's truly just about exploded.
This is also the point where, me being me, I jumped into the conversation seeing that the friend had no clue how to answer the question....
Over the next few minutes I proceeded to give them a very brief primer on how records work, with brief touches onto analog vs. digital and such. I urged them to look at YouTube and the Internet for more information. I didn't want to lose them with too much detail -- my goal was to intrigue and interest them, and to that point, I think I was successful.
"You mean, there is nothing digital in these grooves?" he asked...
"Exactly," I replied "Its kind of magical. The stylus wiggles and through numerous electrical processes music comes out of your speakers."
More open mouths and dropped jaws...
The friend says "yeah, that's how the DJs can scratch their records..."