Record Sleeves as Time Capsules

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Old albums on vinyl can be time capsules. You can’t put much into a CD jewel case and can’t do anything with a digital music collection. When my CD player was in the shop, I went through my vinyl collection in search of analog LPs I haven’t visited in a long time. Some funny things turn up in LP jackets. A friend of mine put a $100 bill in one of his albums 15 years ago but still can’t find it. For me, I pulled out a record on Debussy’s work for flute–which I’m studying–including his Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp. Inside the jacket, I found a copy of a page in the LA Times from March 29, 1985 with an obituary for painter Marc Chagall: “Chagall, Artist of Joy and Suffering, Dies”. He was 97. When I lived in Paris I always wanted to see his ceiling of the Paris Opera House but it wasn’t finished by the time I returned to California.

LA Times Article
Marc Chagall’s obituary from 1985 found inside my Debussy record sleeve (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Other articles stuck out on the page: “House Gives Final OK for Production of 21 More MX Missiles”, which was what Reagan (who was president at the time) wanted. It was the 1980s cold war, the US vs. the Soviet Union, and it was six years before its collapse in 1991. On the page I see ads for stores that no longer exist.

A pencil drawing found inside an old Beatles record (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

You can only store memories, notes, newspaper clippings, etc., inside the jackets of old LPs and you can be surprised by what you find years later when you pull out an old LP again. Hymie’s Vintage Records–a record shop in Minneapolis, MN–blogged about the random things they find in the used vinyl they sell: drawings, collapsed boxes for toys, even a joint. Inside a Beatle’s Revolver album, they found amazing graphite sketches of George, Ringo, Paul, and John.

I recently played an album by an artist I once interviewed–Mose Allison–and found my handwritten notes (all five pages of them) that I wrote to prep myself. Some of the questions were pretty good too! Just another reason to be glad I saved most of my LPs.