In the ‘70s, I lived with three roommates in a rental house in a Denver suburb. We set up the communal stereo on a shelf supported by cinderblocks in the living room, and it became the heart of the home. My crazy graveyard-shift job gave me time alone in the house while everyone else was at work. I treasured that time with the vast collective collection of records and––we had a pair of headphones. Sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the stereo, I’d pick an album; Close to the Edge, by Yes was a favorite.
Careful not to touch the grooves, I slid the album from the sleeve, releasing the subtle smell of vinyl, ran the preener around the record, and held it up to the light to make sure not one speck of dust was left behind.
I set the album on the turntable, cleaned the stylus, and started the record spinning. With the ritual complete, I slipped the headphones on, pushed the tonearm in place, and lowered the stylus until it kissed the vinyl. The needle always skipped once before it found the groove, and my head filled with stereo splendor. As I laid back on the dirty shag carpet, the room disappeared. And I thought, what kind of magic is this?