Saturday, June 11, 2016
Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls ECM 1981
Lee's Summit native Pat Metheny made a lot of albums, with a lot of different people. This one is supposed to be pretty good. Listening to it, it sounds dreamy, there's elements of prog-rock mixed in, but I'd rather talk about something else.
My dad gave me this album. Not because he's a Metheny fan or anything, just because he hordes records and came across this one. Years ago, my dad was decorating his garage with vintage things. Just random stuff he'd come across on Craigslist. For Father's Day or his birthday (can't remember which) I gave him a stack of LPs and an old Fisher Studio Standard turntable I had lying around, just to fit the vintage motif in his garage and because I didn't want to go anywhere I try to buy a present.
My father grew up in a time when vinyl was king. I remember growing up with my parents playing albums pulled from there Peaches wood crate that set next to a Sony stereo system. However, as my parents got older and moved from place to place, the stereo stopped being a part of household and my dad started tuning into talk radio instead of the local classic rock station. Point is, giving him a record player and some albums wasn't introducing him to anything new. Rather, it was giving him back something from his past.
I didn't really think giving him a turntable would be any sort of problem. I just thought he'd play the old albums he still had, maybe buy a few that he lost along the years, but mostly, I thought the turntable would just be a conversation starter in his garage/man-cave. What happened is that my dad went full tilt on records. He moved his man-cave to the basement and it became nothing but records and turntables. Every time I came over, more records would be there, another receiver or another turntable. He started trying make it a lifestyle, buying tee shirts related to vinyl and turntables. Texting me about finds and "digs". He got to know other area collectors by going to Estate sales and stores.
At first, I didn't mind, I'd thumb through his new stuff, he'd grab local stuff for me when he saw it. But anymore, it's a bit too much, I can't keep up. There's also the annoyance of him thinking it's "cool." Similar to a millennial bragging about a bullshit Ryan Adams LP sounding great on a Crosley turntable, he began to think of the hobby as cool, something unique to him. Vinyl isn't inherently cool. And, collecting vinyl is anything but cool. It's a nerdy hobby. It used to be filled with weird old guys it sweatpants that loved to talk about Elvis Presley, which is anything but cool. Sure, there's a revival. However, despite the revival, it doesn't make an obsessive vinyl collector with a Rush t-shirt anymore attractive or cool.
Regardless of hipness, one thing that is true for most new collectors is that he or she gets a bit value-obsessed. The question, "What's it worth?", becomes a huge part of the vocabulary. This was most certainly true of my dad, although, I think he's slowed down on that aspect. This record came to me at his height of what's-it-worth-syndrome. At his job, he has access to some sort of cellophane wrapper and he was using it to re-seal old LPs. When I first asked, he described it as an easy way to preserve albums. To which I'd reply, shrink wrap isn't a good way to store records, it's a only a good way to warp them as the shrink does what the name implies, it shrinks over time and puts pressure on the record eventually warping it if you don't break the seal. However, it became apparent that it wasn't really about preserving them, it was an attempt to elevate the value.
The first time he showed me this record, he bragged about it's sealed condition. And if that were correct, yeah, it's true, mint condition Pat Metheny albums do hold some value to nerdy audiophiles. However, when I looked at it, it was painfully obvious it wasn't an original seal. The wrap it was thin and not typical. But, the dead giveaway was the water-stains along the spine. I didn't have the heart to call him out, just said, "Yeah, that's cool."
He probably tried to trade this off and couldn't and that's probably good because I don't see a bunch of re-sealed LPs at his house anymore. It's a shady practice and most people see through it. Eventually, he gave this LP to me, still re-sealed. I opened it up, thinking maybe it is legit, but no. It's got scuffs, it's got signs of usage, it's not mint. It still plays nice and all, I'm just saying, the weird re-sealing thing could have really pissed someone off if he sold it on eBay. And, it's weird, right?