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May 2015 Retro Gaming Article

May 31, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

45 RPM vinyl records enabled the first “playlists” long before MP3s or iTunes

Sometimes a revelation can come from simply adjusting one's perspective. I came across a great article, by DoYouRemember, about the origin of 45 rpm record inserts which delivered a revelation that I'd never thought about.

45 RPM vinyl record inserts When I was a kid, the inexpensive clock radio in my bedroom was all it took to spark my interest in music. I loved WPGC, but also liked to spin the dial, amazed at the diversity of music I could find. When I got this Panasonic radio, I could do the same on the go, even though it was just AM radio.

A friend who lived across the street was a Kiss fan and I'd go to his house so we could play Destroyer over and over. I finally reached a point where I wanted Destroyer for myself. It was the first album I ever bought which led me down a path full of Kiss albums. I became strangely obsessed with Kiss and didn't really want to listen to other bands. In my head it was a loyalty issue.

Panasonic AM radio But it wouldn't be long before other bands caught my attention. As a kid, I didn't have the money to buy all the albums containing the songs I liked. I spent a lot of time in record stores looking through the track listings on the back sides of records.

But I discovered one could individually buy single songs on smaller records that often had another interesting song on the flip side. I had a lot of children's songs on 45s, but these vinyl discs contained songs I knew by bands I'd heard about from my radio. I was developing a passion for music.

A Spindle Full of 45s was a Playlist

As I amassed a collection of 45's I'd put in those yellow inserts that let me put them on my Dad's turntable and they would drop song by song. I used to order them from least favorite to favorite and wait in fevered anticipation for that last disc to drop to the platter and bellow out my favorite song. I no longer remember what song it was, but I get the same feeling when one of my favorite bands comes on the local oldies station.

The revelation from that article I linked above was about that stack of 45 rpm records was a primitive version of a playlist! I would sort through my 45s and place them in a stack based on when I wanted to listen to each song. Sometimes I'd put in a B-side or mistakenly put a record upside down on the pile.

I've mixed thousands of MP3s onto CDs each mix evoking a certain feeling, era, or genre of music. Sometimes I'll make a disc full of my favorite Kiss songs (or Judas Priest), while other times it will be an amalgamation of pop tracks. Despite the number of times I've done this and included songs I loved as a kid, the idea of 45 rpm records never entered my mind as a play list! I love that I can now revel in my ability to assembly playlists back in the late 70s with my 45s!

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