Adventure #1

I

still remember music being a part of my childhood and upbringing.

At home, we had one of those humongous record players in the living room. It was the size of a medium-large cupboard, made of massive wood (maple and mahogany, I came to learn later) and to move it from its place for the ritual spring cleaning, both my father and my uncle had to show off their muscles before it would slide off just a couple of inches.

Playing a record was a whole ritual. First, I had to open the thing’s top using a small brass key (with a narrow red silk ribbon tied to it). The key itself was kept into a different cupboard (or it would have been too easy, right?).
Then you had to lift and secure this heavy, massive mahogany lid, switch the thing on and wait…
It took in fact the good part of two minutes to “warm-up” (no transistors at that time…).

The records were kept on several lateral shelves, concealed by two beautiful maple doors with mahogany inlays, left and right of the central speaker.

Forget about 7+1 Dolby surround speakers and the like, there was just one large speaker, right in the middle, which produced an almost acceptable mono sound. The sound quality, compared with the modern Hi-Fi installations, must have been very Lo-Fi, but at the time, this huge contraption was the best thing money could buy.

Funny detail: the turntable itself was not in one piece with the cabinet, but rested on a system of springs, so it could veer if the cabinet was bumped by accident (yeah, right…, as if that thing would slide a millimeter even if a mad rhino hit it!).

We had all sorts of records, mostly good ol’ bakelite 78 rpm’s (which I still own and cherish): several original jazz recordings from the U.S. (like all good families in southern Italy, I have some relatives over there), three or four complete opera’s sung by Enrico Caruso (who else…) kept in wonderful leather-covered albums with libretto’s, drawings and photographs (one of them autographed by Mr. Caruso himself); some dancing music left by a couple of US Army officers who were hosted by my grandfather during WW2; lots of classic music (mostly German operettas) and some special editions of Neapolitan classic songs.

With all that music just for grabbing, I was not much aware of anything like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones (I was just a little too young at the time…) but I do remember that I could better whistle “Di quella pira…” from Il Trovatore (by G. Verdi) or “Honeysuckle Rose” (by B. Goodman) than “Yellow Submarine” (by The Beatles).

I was initiated to the mysteries of rock much later, almost by accident.

Continues on Musical Adventure #2

Don't let your thoughts pile up too high.