Every year around this time I start thinking about this record album I used to have as a kid, and start feeling nostalgic. It was a recording of A Christmas Carol
, most definitely geared toward children to be sure. But for my formative years this album was the definitive version of A Christmas Carol
for me. I used to have it on a vinyl LP, but at some point after I moved out on my own, or maybe even before, I got rid of the album. Why keep such a childish thing, after all?
Now that I'm older, I regret that. Of course, even if I had the LP, I haven't had a record player in many, many years. Probably almost 20 years. (Gasp! Allow me to pause for a moment while the reality of that hits me). Even before CD's got popular I mostly listened to cassettes.
Anyhow, every year around this time, I find myself doing a little searching on the 'net, hoping beyond hope to find a digital version of this recording. I've never had very good results, partly because I couldn't remember enough about it to even know what exactly to search for. I wasn't sure if it was called Scrooge
or A Christmas Carol
. I had no idea who actually recorded or published it. I did know that there was a flip side with another story called The Fir Tree
which I also liked, but that was about it.
Well, this year, at Thanksgiving, I was talking to my sister
about it, and she remembered the album, too. We were quoting parts of it and reminiscing, which inspired me to go looking again. I spent "Black Friday" morning trolling the 'net, and eventually found a site that listed discography for "Peter Pan Records"
and found the information for the album I was looking for. It was A Christmas Carol
by the "Peter Pan Players & Chorus". Apparently it was released in 1972! Wow!
With this additional information, I was able to refine my search, but as I expected, I could not find any kind of digital version of it for sale. I did find a couple of auctions on eBay that had this record, and when I saw the picture of the album cover I recognized it right away! I was sure it was the same one from my childhood memories. One of the auctions was "Buy It Now", and it was only $12.99, so rather than risking missing out on getting it I went for it. I have no idea how many of these are floating around out there and what condition they are in, but now that I had struck gold after all these years I didn't want to risk it. Soon the record was on its way to me.
One problem: I don't have a record player. So I went to Amazon and found this USB turntable
. At the time I ordered it the price was about $80, although I've found it interesting that as I've been sending links to it to friends who've asked about it, I've noticed the price seems to frequently change, I've also seen it close to $100. So, I guess I got a deal! This was about the least expensive USB turntable I could find, and it got a pretty good rating overall on Amazon. Also it specifically said it would work on a Mac.
Anyway, the turntable arrived two days ago and I got my hands on the album today. I could not wait to get home and listen to this recording that I have not heard in so many years. I got the turntable set up, which was a little more involved than I had anticipated, but not too bad. I had to attach the cartridge and a counterweight on the arm which had to be adjusted a little. I also had to install the platter and loop the drive belt over the motor. No big deal. The turntable comes bundled with some kind of "EZ" software as well as Audacity
. I already had Audacity
installed on my Mac, and since it provides additional editing capabilities (e.g. filtering out the worst of the pops and clicks) I decided to just use that.
In just a few minutes, I was listening to The Fir Tree
. I decided to start with that one since it was shorter, and would serve as a trial run as it had been awhile since I used Audacity
. It was just as wonderful and depressing as I remembered! "Piece by piece he was fed into the fire. Gone. Gone. The little fir tree was gone."
I ran it through the pop/click filter and exported it as an MP3, and moved on to the best part: A Christmas Carol
. "Ebenezer Scrooooooooge ..." it began. Ah, the memories flooded back! Unfortunately, while The Fir Tree
played without a hitch, there was one spot in A Christmas Carol
where it skipped and just kept skipping. Upon inspection, I found there was a visible spot on the record where it was scratched a little. I suspected that maybe if the weight on the cartridge was a little higher it might not skip as easily. So I tried adjusting the counterweight on the arm, and fortunately I was able to get it past that point. I was able to clean up the skip pretty well using Audacity
, so it's hardly even noticeable.
I actually bought another record, a recording of Pinocchio
which is the one other record I remember having as a child. I mostly bought it to help further legitimize the fact that I bought this USB turntable which, once I digitize Pinocchio
, will probably go into a closet never to be used again.
So the record that probably only cost a couple of bucks when I was a kid cost me around $100 all-in this time around. I guess that's inflation for you, huh?