The warmth of sound

I’m leaning with my head against the gold mesh of an old hi-fi speaker, my ear washed with the warm sound of a Roger Whittaker record, and my eye seeking out the golden glow of the tubes within.

I’m in the backseat behind my dad, lost in the reflection of the dashboard lights angled against the driver’s window of an old LTD station wagon, while “Down Memory Lane” on CFRB Toronto bathes my sleepy head with sentimental songs.

I’m lounging on my uncle’s leather couch in Edmonton, listening with utter attentiveness on his amazing stereo to Springsteen’s “Born To Run”, one of twenty classic albums I’ll record on Maxell Gold cassettes over a two-day span.

I’m driving in a van full of teenagers, near Sooke, B.C., passing forward to the front a Dire Straits tape, rewound to “The Man’s Too Strong”, and hearing that astonishing, acoustic guitar intro in full Dolby sound for the first time.

I’m riding shotgun with my tree-planting supervisor, through the clearcuts north of the ghost town of Fraserdale; he pops Daniel Lanois’ “For the Beauty of Winona” into the dash, and I am instantly aware that this is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.

I’m flooring the pedal out of the Tim Hortons at Odessa, west of Kingston, eastbound for Montreal, and I see the broken trees from the ice storm around me just as Ian Tamblyn’s voice from the CD player breaks into the haunting strains of “Voice in the Wilderness.”

I am sitting on my couch in Toronto, with my best friend and my girlfriend, between a pair of 2-foot high ancient Advent speakers hooked up to the NAD amp my buddy gave me years ago, and the CD player I picked up for twenty bucks at the Sally Ann last month, and I’ve just put Robert Plant and Allison Kraus in the drive.

The beauty of human voices in harmony, the purity of proper production, and above all, the warmth of sound as it should be have just returned me to a simple perfect paradise I never should have left, right here in my own living room.

I’ve spent the past 4 years listening to a crummy CD player with those tiny tiny speakers and more dumb design flaws than you could shake a stick at, all because it was on sale at Best Buy and came with an integrated 5-disk DVD changer system and a remote control.

What the hell was I thinking?

God, it’s good to be home.

5 comments on “The warmth of sound

  1. Nice piece! I have a pet theory that one of the reasons there’s so much messed up stuff in the world these days, is that since the CD age arrived we’ve been deprived of what Neil Young calls the “therapeutic value” of music. Useless MP3s have only made a bad problem worse. People think I’m making this up and then I sit them down and switch back and forth between vinyl and CD with “Kind Of Blue” and they instantly get it. Good sound isn’t an indulgence, it’s as essential as air food and water.

    P.S. I’ve used only NAD amps for over 25 years now. Fantastic products!

  2. Nicely said. But where were you during the 8-track era?

  3. Thanks for sharing those memories. They remind me of my own moments of warm sounds and beautiful harmonies.

  4. Aw man! 8-tracks totally remind me of my buddy’s dad, who had a muscle car and Gene Tracy comedy albums on 8-track that we used to sneak listens of when he wasn’t around.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>