Remembering the past – The Vinyl Single

The last time I visited with my parents, I was looking through a container that had some of my old vinyl singles (also known as 45s or 7 inch singles). This had me remembering back on the good times with vinyl albums and singles. I know that vinyls are making a comeback now, and I’m happy about that.

When I was growing up, 8 tracks were still around, but losing popularity. We still have a few 8 tracks and 8 track players lying around, but I have no idea if any of those would still work after 30+ years of being dormant. I have a few cassette singles here and there, but the 45s were where it was at when I was growing up.

I was able to find what I think was my first single. It was for my first favorite song – “You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone. I’m not sure if the single was a gift to me or it was given to me later. I remember singing along to the song when it played on the radio when I was a tiny kid. Who knew I would grow up to be almost 6’5″ and still singing along to that song? I might have liked some songs before, but that was the first one that truly stands out in my memories.

There were some very cool things that came along with the vinyl singles. There were B-sides. These were sometimes songs that were on the same album, but not released. They were also occasionally released at the same time, so you got a two for one in terms of hit singles. The B-sides would also at times include remixes of the main single, or new songs that you could not find on any album or cassette. Sometimes you bought the singles just for the B-sides.

The art work for these singles could also be very elaborate. You could have the basic single release, such as the one shown on the bottom right of the picture (Ready for the World, “Oh Sheila”). You could also get some very cool packaging, like the top two of the picture. In addition to the cool art work you could get on the vinyl albums, you could also get some additional art work on the singles themselves.

There were also the 12″ singles, which would usually give you a few remixes on each side and 6 or 7 songs instead of 2. Vinyl singles started fading away in the late 80s and early 90s, which came with the rise of CDs. I still buy CDs, so I am definitely not going to knock them, especially with the sound quality that you can get from them. But playing a vinyl album or single is a fond memory for me.

The digital age is upon us and is phasing out the CDs, so I have to adjust again. I don’t mind buying the singles digitally, but it’s not the same. It’s more impersonal. When you buy an album or song digitally, there are no memories of going to a record store and fumbling through all the rows of vinyls to find the one or two titles that you are looking for. No joy in opening up a present that you know has a record in there, but you don’t know which one. Clicking a button to purchase just doesn’t bring that same type of joy.

If I got the Debby Boone single as a present, I can only imagine how happy I must have been back then. A small little present, lasting just under 4 minutes to play it once. Probably played it hundreds of times when I was younger. Recorded it onto cassette a couple of times for special mix tapes. Those are the memories that came through my head when I was home and looking through that container of vinyl singles. Good times. Happy times. Positive times.

Do you have any memories of vinyls or 8 tracks? Please feel free to share. I’d be happy to hear from you.

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