Points to anyone who can get inside my head to know where I got the reference for tone-arm cobra…
So, when I was a kid, probably about 8 years old, my parents got for me a Fisher-Price record player for Christmas. Honestly, I think it is probably the gift I remember more fondly than any other I received as a kid. You see, we had a great record collection in our house. It might not have been huge, but it was diverse and pretty interesting to an 8 year old. There was CCR, Conway Twitty, and Victory at Sea…Elvis, Dino, Jim Croce, and Hank Williams…all sorts of classical music sets and holiday lps as well. My Mom had a bunch of 45s from when she was a teenager that I loved. It was a bit of a wonderland to my brain!
So, when I got my own record player, you can imagine that I really owned that record player. I instantly became a little more sophisticated I guess. I could control what played and when. I could change records whenever I wanted and I could imagine a world that matched the music I played. At some point, I got a cassette recorder and started my own radio station with the records I played…”This is Little Warren on WWAR radio spinning another favorite, Hound Dog Man by Fabian…” I recorded all sorts of long shows…some rock, some classical, some country. I was a real DJ in my mind, recording my records and voice-overs onto cassette tape.
Jump forward 35 or so years and my parents brought a bunch of my old things they discovered as they cleaned out their attic…including my old record player and the 45s I loved as a kid! Just a few weeks after that, I found new-old records for sale for $0.15/each at the local library. It sort of just clicked, but I knew that my old (and now new-to-me) vinyl was calling my name, begging to be played once again!
I tried my old record player and it worked…sort of. I am no audiophile…in fact, I love the pops and clicks of a record player…but the old record player was just not going to cut it. I hemmed and hawed and finally found a few extra dollars and decide to buy a new Crosley Cruiser record player. Some folks online complained that the Crosley was a cheap player or that it sounded bad. I figured that my not-so-keen ear and my not-so-carefully-stored records would never know the difference and I was delighted to find that the Crosley played even better than I expected!
I fired up the old tone-arm cobra and spun the first record…Glen Miller’s greatest hits. We played some of the Ink Spots and than an oldie but a goodie – Alpine Holiday…that’s right, it is a record filled with Alpiney sounds of yodeling and oompas and the like. Abigail and I danced some and we made the record skip a few times. It was perfect! Sure, it’s a lot different than CD or mp3 music but it just has a different feel to it. Old records just sound right to me I guess. I don’t really want to be a kid again, but I loved remembering back to that time and I love hearing records I hadn’t heard in a long time!
So…the reference to tone-arm cobra…anyone read my mind? I am a M*A*S*H guy and Season 6 had an episode called “Your Hit Parade” where Radar plays a bunch of records the unit received (instead of medical supplies) as the staff patched up the mass of wounded troops. He had to stop playing at one point, telling his listeners about their request, “It’ll be coming to you as soon as I put a new fang on the old tone arm cobra.” I guess it’s funny but that episode stuck with me and I always call a record player “the old tone arm cobra”…weird, I know.