A couple of weeks before Tom Waits announced that he would be

A couple of weeks before Tom Waits announced that he would be releasing a limited edition 78 of Mardi Gras Indian chants (thanks, Atlantic), I happened across a 78 from postwar pop star Patti Page in a church-affiliated thrift store in rural Oregon, where all the records cost a dollar and fifty cents (quaint!). It was nestled amongst the piles and piles of discarded Evie records (and a few good ones, like Johnny Cash. I bought the thing out of pure curiosity. It was heavy and came in its original Mercury Records wrapping. The thing is, now I have no way to listen to the damn thing. It is a package I cannot unwrap. A locked safe without a key. I can only guess at how it sounds by playing it on the record player on normal speed, which I did once and found unbelievably frustrating. And now that the Reverend Tom Waits is putting out new 78s, others will surely follow suit. But I hope they don’t. We’ve already revived two inconvenient and arcane recording technologies out of a mixture of nostalgia and genuine desire for better (or at least different) sound quality. The point is, it’s been three weeks and I still haven’t unlocked the mysteries of that damn Patti Page single. This is as much a bitching session as it is a call for people with record players who might like to hear Patti Page sing (THESE SONGS). Here’s the plan: I’ll come over to your house with a pan of brownies. Then we’ll listen to the record sixty times in a row so that by the time we’re done, I’ll never want to listen to it again and will thus have saved myself the trouble and expense of purchasing a record player that can deal with such antiquated nonsense. Seriously, what’s next? The Victrola?


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