I stumbled on an old Victor Victrola hand-cranked 78 rpm record player at a flea market one day a few years ago, and was irresistibly lured by the scratchy, distinctly analog sound of the music wafting out of the funny looking horn attached to the arm.
There was something so warm and inviting about the music on these old discs, something very handmade and human to the sound. In our digital world, everything gets reduced to bits of code, ones or zeros, with nothing in between. In the old analog world of these 78 rpm recordings, sure there may be hiss and distortion, but there is something else there too, some ineffable quality between the ones and the zeros, teased out of the old grooves by needle and tone arm.
I discovered a vast world out there of old-time music fans and collectors and dealers. eBay has a huge ongoing auction of 78's. Once in a while incredibly rare discs crop up, and the prices can range from a dollar or two, up to thousands of dollars. There is an intense collector's market for certain pre-War blues 78's, something that I would love to get into, but can not afford at the prices these rare records command.
I found myself eventually gravitating towards three things I was passionate about, and soon got obsessed by: Cuban music from the 30's, 40's and 50's; French and Belgian pre-War Swing Music, and anything by my hero, the gypsy guitar master Django Rheinhardt.
Once I figure out how to do it, I hope to post here on the blog some tracks from my own collection of 78's for you all to hear.
In the meantime, here is a bit of Django himself from YouTube.