From One Generation to the Next, Sharing the Pleasures of a Three-Minute Pop Song

I put a piece of vinyl on a turntable today for the first time in what must have been decades. My 13-year-old daughter bought a few ancient Beatles forty-fives from a Covent Garden peddler on our family trip to London last summer and had lobbied hard ever since for a record player. So I hauled my old Technics turntable out of the back of the closet and hooked it up to an old stereo in the basement. My excitement building, I poked around in another musty closet to fish out a few old Al Stewart records, then lumbered back down the basement stairs to cue up "Nostradamus."

At first there was an audiophile moment: the bass was indeed strong, the highs crisp and bell-like. Vinyl really did sound better! Then came the crackles and pops, and I remembered why CDs were such a revelation when they came along. Oh, well. When my daughter got home from school we had a teachable moment when I showed her how to gently lower the needle into the groove.