I give thanks for the joyful noise of my now-deceased Pioneer turntable and praise its holy name.
This most sacred of objects was handed down from father to son, and, at the time of its passing, was thirty-nine years old. It leaves behind indelible sonic memories.
I give thanks to my deceased Pioneer turntable for the afternoon it spent playing both sides the 12″ single of Far Gone and Out by The Jesus and Mary Chain that I bought half-price in Woolworths in King’s Heath. It played them over and over again.
I give it thanks for my first exposure to “Screamadelica” by Primal Scream in 1992, which I borrowed from a schoolfriend named Fred, and which at the time I absolutely hated. But it sowed the seeds.
I give it thanks for my first exposure to “Psychocandy” by The Jesus and Mary Chain. The storm of feedback is still lodged firmly in my brain and my ears. Its gift will never leave me.
I give it thanks for my first exposure to “White Light/White Heat” by The Velvet Underground, which I borrowed from a schoolfriend named Steven. I listened to Sister Ray and watched the picture disc spin round and round and round and round. Steven once took the chance of ‘phoning me so that he could volunteer to replace me as singer in the band I fronted. I refused and suggested he play drums instead. He didn’t.
I give it thanks for my first exposure to “Dragnet” by The Fall, which I borrowed from my friend Ian. It was a hot summer, and mum described the song Printhead as “raucous” – she certainly got that right – but strangely enough didn’t ask me to turn it off.
I give it thanks for my first exposure to Velocity Girl by Primal Scream, which in contrast to “Screamadelica” I loved instantly and consider to this day to be the finest one minute and twenty seconds of pure jangly pop I have ever heard.
I give it thanks for the hours spent sitting on the floor in the dining room, leaning against the wall, head back, eyes closed, listening to Shostakovich quartets, Mahler symphonies, assorted Messiaen, Webern, Stravinsky and anything else I could borrow from Birmingham Central Library.
I give it thanks, nearly twenty years later, for my renewed acquantance with Screamadelica. I saw sense eventually, and my now-deceased Pioneer turntable played the red vinyl 180 gramme reissue beautifully.
I praise it for its smoked plastic dust-cover, even though it was an absolute pain as it would no longer stay open on its hinges, making the simple act of turning a record over something of a challenge.
I praise it for its reliable belt-drive, its pleasing adjustable arm-weight, and the immensely satisfying metallic noise made by the arm that moved the tone-arm between the “up”, “on-up”, and “down” positions.
I praise it for its dated 1970s fake teak casing, and slightly dangerous-looking wiring.
It died as it would have wished: spinning the limited edition blue vinyl pressing of “West” by Wooden Shjips. May the psychedelic sounds of Ripley Johnson’s Airline guitar accompany it to a better place, where it will rejoin its sister amplifier, the death of which preceded it by a year.
And I mourn it because it was my dad’s, and I thought it might – just might – outlive him, as a part of our shared past, as something to be cherished.