****This is the first entry in a weekly column that I’ll be writing for a fantastic Facebook page dedicated to A-ha and getting them back to North America to tour in 2016. (for some reason, the link won’t work, so the name is [A-ha Morten Harket USA 2015]) So, anytime you see “Take on This!” in the title, it’s an article from there that I wanted to also share here. Enjoy!****
You know that moment when you find something so awesome that you almost don’t know what to do with yourself? That happened to me a few months back.
I was visiting a local record shop that I don’t frequent regularly because the owner can be crabby. Like, downright grump-tastic. Perma-scowl. How he can be so grumpy surrounded by all those records is beyond me. Anyway, I decided to go in on a whim while downtown and, well… I think I freaked him out a little bit.
Why, you ask?
Because he had a factory-sealed copy of Scoundrel Days.
*insert your own screaming here*
I tried to keep my cool but I may or may not have screeched and clapped my hands over my mouth like a crazy fangirl. I’m sure he thought I was insane. I mean, here was this tiny, purple-haired dynamo jumping up and down in the middle of his dusty lower-level record shop, overly excited over an album by a group he more than likely considered to be a one-hit-wonder.
He could have asked $50 for it and I probably would have thrown my credit card at him. Thankfully, it was only $9. I wouldn’t have a lot of explaining to do at home.
I think I paid for it…I was pretty much in an ecstatic haze by this point. He didn’t chase me out the door, so I’m confident I’m not a criminal.
This was one of many times that I wished my vehicle had a turntable in it. Now, logistically, I know that would be impossible. I mean, we’ve got a serious pothole problem in Southeastern Wisconsin and it would destroy the records. See? I’ve thought this through. It doesn’t mean I still don’t want it to be a thing.
As I sat in my car staring at my new prize next to me (I didn’t buckle it in. I did think about it though…), I was instantly faced with a dilemma.
To open or not to open?
I was torn. On one hand, this was a pristine piece of history. Untouched by any phonograph needles for close to thirty years. Could I really breach the seal and expose it to the air? To dust? To a mischievous child that lives in my house and loves to touch ALL THE THINGS?
On the other hand, I WANTED TO LISTEN TO IT.
Yes, I have the album on CD. Yes, it’s also on my MP3 player. I know I can listen to it any time I want. But here’s the thing. Maybe it’s my upbringing in a primarily vinyl household, maybe it’s my love for old media, but there’s nothing quite like listening to a record. The cracks and pops make it unique. Even if it’s a new LP, it still has that crackle, that distinctive sound you can only get from vinyl.
I brought it home and rested it against the front of my turntable. It shone like a ray of sunshine in my living room. I’ll admit that I stared at it for a good two or three minutes without moving a muscle.
By the next day I couldn’t stand it anymore, and my childish need to open things for the sole reason of opening them won out over practicality. I knew it would kill the condition and resale value, but then, who was I kidding? Like I would ever sell it anyway. In the end, I let it sit on display for a little less than a day and I was careful to keep it away from seven-year-old hands.
That’s not to say it wasn’t taunting me for said almost-day. I’m pretty sure I actually heard it mock my strife from across the room, sticking its little record tongue out at me as it laughed at my dilemma of whether or not to indulge. A coy, gap-toothed smile flashed from the cover as Morten implored me to open the plastic. Mags batted his seductive Norwegian eyes in an attempt to get me to put the album on the turntable. Paul stayed silent, but their intent was very clear—they really wanted me to listen to the record. (Yes, I’m aware that makes me sound like a crazy person. But it happened one-hundred-percent absolutely exactly this way…I swear.)
When I broke the plastic and unwrapped it, it was like Christmas morning. I turned it over and over in my hands, running my fingers over the raised portions of the cover art. As I inspected the actual record, I grinned broadly as I found no scratches. It truly was perfect.
And it sounded incredible, crackles and all.
Oh, and I’m pretty sure Morten winked at me as it was playing.