The Record Player: A Musical Journey Down Memory Lane

Disclaimer: Devoted Grandma is reader-supported. If you purchase anything through my site, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Thank you.

These days my grandkids are always telling me about the newest way they consume music and other media. I try my best to keep up with them, it’s a great way to show interest in what they’re doing, and it helps me feel young by knowing some trends.

I won’t lie; sometimes, it goes right over my head. Who can keep up? I guess my grandkids can. But me, I’m missing the days when the record player was more common. The use of the record player is just completely different from listening to music on your smartphone!

Spending Time With the People You Love

Retro vinyl record player
Flickr/Nan Palmero

You weren’t just doing it for yourself when you took the record player out and put on some music. It was more than a personal experience; it was an activity you enjoyed with your family and friends. 

My family used to take turns picking whose favorite album went on. I couldn’t stand some of the music my youngest brother was in love with, but it was all worth it for the chance to put on Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog!

I remember perfectly how the needle felt when it touched the record, the sound of the recording stirring to life, and listening to vinyl music filling our home. I also remember my brother groaning because he didn’t want to hear this song even one more time!

These memories fill me with joy and make me reminisce about a simpler time. 🙂

That Record Art

Flickr/Thad Zajdowicz

When I was growing up, you didn’t have instant access to the internet and an endless stream of information on the daily goings on of your favorite celebrities. What you did have, was the fantastic cover art that would come with these records!

Stunning art was rendered on the covers of vinyl records. These illustrations and photographs connected you to the music and the people responsible for making them. They were pivotal when television and other media hadn’t taken off like a horse at the races.

I remember spending hours in my room looking over the covers of my favorite records; it was one of my most treasured activities. It was almost as good as listening to the music itself!

Nothing will beat the times I spent in record stores, reviewing different albums and viewing the art. I can trace back some of my decisions to buy vinyl records based almost entirely on the art that was on the cover! That art gave you a sneak peek at what was inside.

The Start of the Record Player

Nancy Fergusen playing a record player attached to the radio
Library of Congress

The concept of having recorded music played back to you hits its most recognizable form in the late 1880s when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. This device would become the modern record player.

It was later improved upon when Alexander Graham Bell invented the graphophone, using wax to help capture sound waves on the machine.

In 1887, Emile Berliner invented the gramophone, an invention closely resembling the record player we’ve all come to know and love. Instead of using Edison’s rolls, Berliner uses a flat disc. It’s here that vinyl records become a familiar staple and are mass-produced.

From there, the turntable is invented, a device that allows the record to spin around with a needle picking up grooves on the disc. From there, the record player remained relatively popular and well-loved. In the 1960s and 1970s, they saw a significant resurgence due to the utilization of stereo playback.

Listening to Vinyl Records

Garrard turntable 1968

Sometimes my grandkids don’t get why anyone would prefer listening to vinyl records on a record player instead of the most high-tech gadgets. Personally, I think that they sound better!

There’s something warm and comfortable about a vinyl record; it doesn’t sound manufactured to me like polished-up digital media tends to. Instead, I feel like I’m sitting at my favorite concert, live with the band. And that’s a very good feeling!

It’s also more of an activity than just hitting a few buttons, and the music is right there. I get to go to my record collection and look through the old album covers again. It’s like visiting old friends! Once I’ve picked the one I want, I can put it on my turntable and lower the needle again.

I’m filled with a rush of old feelings and memories, great music, and even the sound of my brother giving me a hard time all over again. These are sweet, treasured moments that I’ll never give up.

Resale Value of Vinyl Records

Flickr/Dave Parker

Now, I’m sentimental. I don’t have intentions of selling any of my records anytime soon. Every one of them has meaning and importance to me. That said, some people are more pragmatic than me.

If a vinyl record is well-kept and in good condition, you can get a reasonable resale price at some shops. Of course, the condition isn’t the only qualifier. It has to be a record that someone has to want to buy. You can scan your record collection and compare it to listings on eBay to get an idea of how much they might net you.

But again, I’m a fan of just keeping them all to myself, so I can play them again and again!

Wrapping Up

While technology is constantly changing, and we don’t know what the next wave will bring us, you can still purchase and use record players to listen to your vinyl records. You can find them online and have them shipped straight to your house.

By incorporating record players back into your life again, you can share something with your children and grandchildren. Show them your favorite albums and play them your favorite songs. Turn the music up and dance in your living room!

If possible, find some of their favorites on vinyl too. They’ll love hearing their music differently from what they’re used to. Times might be changing, but what’s not is our ability to connect to the people that we love and share with them what’s important. 🙂

Love Being A Grandma?

Then you'll love my daily email! Over 88,500 grandmas get it to start their morning off on the right foot. It's uplifting, fun, and always completely free. Give it a try below!