A Broken Record

Boyleing Points
Typography

I know I sound like a broken record on any number of topics and that reminds me… Does the term, broken record, mean anything to anybody under 40?  I’m guessing most of those whippersnappers know what a record is because vinyl is vintage and vintage is hip. But do they know why a broken record means repeat?

I meander down memory lane because so many things yank me right back there. I heard a guy say “terlit” the other day which, if you’re a certain age, you know he meant toilet. His Brooklynese reminded me that lots of people in the old days used to speak like that. The old days when broken records first came to be.

Before Spotify and Pandora and Apple music, there were records and inevitably those records would be scratched and the needle of the record player (getting this kids?) would get stuck in the scratch or a deep groove and the song would repeat itself, annoyingly, until you nudged the needle (which often caused another scratch). 

Bill Withers, you know, the Lean On Me guy, faked us out one time. In another classic song, Ain’t No Sunshine, he sang I know, 26 consecutive times. I know, I know,  I know, I know ….In some cuts, he sang I know 40 times in a row. You’d finally give up and go to the record player because this time you were convinced the record really was stuck. Just as you were about to move the needle he’d belt, "Hey, I ought to leave the young thing alone, But ain't no sunshine when she's gone."

If he got you, you might concede it and say, “Damn” and then sing “I knew it, I knew it, I knew it, I knew it….”

I guess youngsters might still use the expression “broken record” even if they never heard one. I mean, why not? It’s not like the rest of us are traveling around town on horseback but we still tell others to slow down, take it easy, and hold your horses. It’s a good thing others understand the expression. Imagine telling someone to hold their horses and they looked around—horses?  What horses? They’d look at you like you had bats in the belfry—which sadly, is an expression that’s pretty much gone the way of the mimeograph machine. 

Excuse me for a second as I take a deep breath trying to reimagine a whiff of fresh mimeograph paper. Ah, kids today, they don’t know what they’re missing. 

Records and horses are not part of everyday life anymore and it seems Budweiser might be going the way of Eastern Airlines and Wetson’s. The King of Beers is now ranked number 4 and falling with young people going for craft beer and Bud Light. The King might become another Schaefer. Now we might envy the young because they’ve got youth but they’ll never smell mimeograph paper and never know the Schaefer jingle. Look it up online. Sing along. And to use another old expression: It won’t skip.

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