Change heard through your children’s ears is the best music

“I welcome change as long as nothing is different.”

—Author unknown but appreciated

Attaining geezer status has its perks.

“I can hear the difference,” daughter Robin shared with excitement as we were enjoying a rare lunch together one day last week. Her exuberance was centered on this thing called a “DAC” that husband, Jonathan, had purchased for her.

“It converts digital music to analog,” she explained. “And the quality difference is amazing— the music sounds so much better.”

“Hold on,” I said. “You mean analog as in old records that were declared obsolete 30 or however many years ago it has been? You are saying that one now can buy a device to make the technology that replaced those records sound as good as the old records it replaced? Let me think about this a minute while I savor this old-fashioned hamburger reminiscent of the car hop days at the old K&N Root Beer stand in Mount Pleasant.”

Mom once said that she didn’t feel old until all of her kids were over 40. What mom didn’t tell me is that one of the best perks for living long enough to see your children reach that milestone is getting to experience change with them. Being around to see the appreciation for “new and improved” ways of life being retrofitted to bring back the best parts of the past can be downright  heartwarming for dinosaurs like me.

Turns out that DAC stands for “digital to analog converter,” and the device Robin was thrilled with does in fact return the superior quality sound to digital recordings that was lost when vinyl records were taken off the shelf.

I would say that I’ve missed the spectacular sound quality produced when a needle floats through a vinyl phonograph record groove delivering music with a range of tones that digital sound is not capable of delivering.

But the truth is I never quit listening to my “flat stacks of wax,” as DJ Russ Knight, the “Weird Beard” on KLIF in Dallas used to call records in the 60s. For those whose birthday predates the time when AM radio was the only option for broadcast music, DJ is short for disc jockey, one who played records (called discs) on the radio. And I still spin (DJ speak for play) my records regularly on a turntable connected to an amplifier as old as some of the records driving a pair of 42-inch speakers from the same era.

When vinyl was phased out, old record buffs scoffed at the new format declaring digital as incapable of delivering a sound as good as that of vinyl records. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the debate because I wasn’t going to give up my old records any way. And now, with a vinyl revival underway in the last few years, here comes a device designed to enhance the sound of today’s digital downloads to bring the quality up to that of a vinyl record. Score one for the geezers.

What’s next? Perhaps a device that plugs into the USB port of the digitized megawatt AM/FM/Sirius/Blue Tooth/Pandora/video screen sound system in our homogeneously styled new cars to recreate the sensation of cruising to the oldies on AM radio in a 1950s automobile?

I would say that I’ve missed driving a car in which hearing the motor and feeling the bumps in the road with only an AM radio for tunes was common place. But I also still drive the mid-50s Fords parked in my garage. And I don’t even turn the AM radio on because the sound of an old car is music to my ears.

It would be nice, however, to pull my ’55 up under the awning at the K&N listening to Elvis on the radio and enjoy another old-fashioned hamburger like the one I was enjoying with my daughter when this conversation started.

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—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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