Collecting Vinyl Records

Collecting Vinyl Records

The demise of the vinyl record has become a statement all to common in the music industry. Vinyl records were supposed to be a dead music format a long time ago, but have persevered through many technological changes in the music industry.

In this day and age of ipods and digital downloads, where people can fit thousands of songs in such a neat little package, how has the vinyl record managed to compete; what is the allure?

Recent research reveals that teens enjoy the physical experience they get with a vinyl record and the interaction between themselves and the record. There is a certain ritual one must rely on to play a vinyl record, and much to the dismay of the digital world, the youth of the world is receptive to this type of interaction.

For some, collecting vinyl records is an obsession, a life long journey to obtain hidden masterpieces locked away in the attics and basements around the globe. For others, just owning a few selected gems from their favorite band or recording artist is enough to satisfy their collecting palate.

Then there is the thrill of the hunt, scouring the online web sites and auctions looking for a rare or collectible record for their collection. For the adventurous, there are the numerous garage sales, rummage sales, flea markets and the like, that dot the countryside in every town in America. There, they can search through the dusty boxes and bins for their the next special addition to their already growing vinyl record collection. There is almost a sense of pride, self-worth, if you will, in finding what you are looking for, if only to be satisfied for a moment, until you realize you must find another rare treasure to add to your collection.

Ever since Alex Steinweiss designed the first album cover for Columbia Records in 1939, album cover art has been highly collectible and is a part of music history. Classic album covers like the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, Janis Joplin’s Cheap Thrills (designed by Robert Crumb), Led Zeppelins’ Physical Graffiti are iconic. Some bands enlisted the aid of world renowned artists to design the album covers and concepts for their latest releases, including the Rolling Stones, who used Andy Warhol’s idea for their album Sticky Fingers.

For some, collecting vinyl is an investment. Not only a monetary investment but a cultural one as well. Vinyl records are part of pop culture as we know it and certainly part of the rock and roll era. Preserving vinyl records, the art, the music, is a very important part of this phenomenon.

But the one thing that sets vinyl apart from all other musical formats is that vinyl records just sound the best. There is no substitute for the sound reproduction that vinyl brings to music, no digital counterpart. And for that, the vinyl record will continue to survive, if not thrive.

Paul Simon – A Musical And Cultural Icon Returns To The Stage

Paul Simon – A Musical And Cultural Icon Returns To The Stage

Paul Simon is a music and entertainment beacon, and fans of several generations will be thrilled to hear that he is returning to the stage with a full schedule of shows around the United States in 2006. Simon’s work evokes different meanings for different people, but the fact remains that very few performers draw from as diverse a fan base as Simon. A look at his life and influences may help to explain why.

Early Life

Simon was born on October 13, 1941 in Newark Heights, New Jersey, but his family soon moved to Queens, which was where Simon was introduced to the world. Simon was raised in a typical family setting, and attended Forest Hills High School, where he became very interested in music.

It was here that Simon met and befriended Art Garfunkel, and the two began playing music together sporadically under the band name “Tom and Jerry”. The immediate bond the two shared centered on their mutual admiration of The Everly Brothers, and they released their first single, Hey, Schoolgirl, in 1957 and it climbed to number 49 on the charts. However, the duo did not begin their famous duo effort at this time. Instead, Simon continued to play on his own and with other artists.

Simon continued his education at Queens College, and he ultimately got his degree in English Literature. During this time, until he finished college, Simon was introduced to the folk music scene in New York City, and he continued to work on his own compositions. Simon released more than 30 songs before he graduated from college, most of which were released on small record labels.

A Legendary Duo

In 1964, Simon and Garfunkel began their longstanding work together by signing a record deal with Columbia Records, and they released their first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. that same year. One of the singles from that first album, “The Sound of Silence”, climbed to number one on the charts, and a dynamic duo was born.

For the next six years, the two singers released seven albums, one of which being the soundtrack for the legendary movie, “The Graduate”. Although none of the singles from these albums achieved huge commercial success, the duo’s work achieved cult status that’s hard to match. A testament to their underground popularity was seen in 1981, when Simon and Garfunkel got together for a concert in Central Park that drew over 500,000 people.

Going Solo

After Simon and Garfunkel split in 1970, Simon continued to release albums, and his influence never waned. Simon released 14 albums during his time as a solo artist, and overall, Simon’s commercial success actually grew, as he produced 17 singles that made the US charts. He also became a renowned musical writer, helping produce several platinum albums for other artists and Broadway productions. Simon continues to write and compose to this day.


Paul Simon’s status as an icon was cemented by several honors he received in reflection of his musical influence. Simon was inducted, with Art Garfunkel, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Simon was again recognized when he received Kennedy Center Honors in 2002. A year later, Simon and Garfunkel received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, which led to a tour that wrapped up at the Colosseum in Rome in front of a staggering 600,000 fans.

Paul Simon has been perfecting the art of music and performing for nearly 50 years, and this summer’s tour will be an opportunity for fans of all ages to bask in the glow of a musical legend.

Arts Education Suffering In San Jose Schools

Arts Education Suffering In San Jose Schools

Art programs, such as art appreciation, drama, theater and music, have been suffering across the nation for 30 years, as school officials concentrate on the basics of learning. With federal programs, such as No Child Left Behind, even more focus has been placed on basic learning skills, which excludes the arts. This also means that any extra funding is funneled into these basic learning programs in order to meet state and federal-set standards. Arts education is one of the standards that should be met by schools within the state of California, yet the state does not impose penalties on schools that do not met these particular standards.

A statewide survey by SRI International concluded that of the 1,123 schools surveyed:

• 89 percent failed to meet state standards for arts education;
• Nearly 1/3 offered no art education coursework that met state standards;
• 61 percent had no full-time arts specialist, with classroom teachers without adequate training teaching arts education at the elementary level;
• Kindergarten through 12 enrollment in music classes declined by 37 percent over a five-year period, ending last June; and
• Poor schools have the least access to arts education; whereas better income schools (where parents can afford private lessons) are more apt to have it.

Chris Funk is the San Jose schools’ principal of Lincoln High School, a stellar magnet arts school. He believes that the more San Jose schools’ students are exposed to the arts the better they will do in testing within other coursework.

Studies have proven that a strong arts program can be linked to improvement in everything from math skills to truancy. Arts education in elementary and secondary schools produce skilled sculptors, actors, musicians, singers and so many other arts-related careers. The arts also improve the socialization skills of students.

Bill Eriendson, assistant superintendent of the San Jose schools, stated that the level of funding for the arts is inadequate. Last year, the state budgeted 0 million for the arts and physical education; however, this amount was a one-time deal. The norm is 5 million, which is about per student. According to Eriendson, the San Jose schools requires about 0,000 to restore just their music programs at the elementary San Jose schools. This figure does not include the purchase of instruments.

San Jose schools are a good representation of the statewide findings. Besides trying to meet state and federal standards in the basic coursework, the San Jose schools were hit with Proposition 13 that was passed in 1978, which imposed tax cuts for Californians and greatly reduced funding for arts education. The arts were first cut in the secondary San Jose schools and then in the elementary San Jose schools. By the late 1980s, arts education was all but gone in the San Jose schools.

According to Funk, there currently is a waiting list of 225 San Jose schools’ students. He finds San Jose schools’ students are drawn to the dance, theater, music and visual arts programs offered by his school. Without the support of the Lincoln Foundation, which donated ,000 for this school year, this San Jose schools arts magnet would not exist.