National Record Store Day is this weekend.
It’s a reminder that music hasn’t always just been streaming services.
And that music is a big deal.
In fact, at some points in history, people have broken the law just to hear it.
This is a story that started in the Soviet Union in the 1940s and 50s.
In later years the authorities would relax the rules, but back then censorship was very broad and very strict.
The regime thought music and the other arts existed primarily to promote their ideology.
Anything else was off-limits, especially arts and culture from the West.
But in the post-war world, Western music was very popular.
Making it forbidden made it that much more exciting.
Somewhere along the line a citizen of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, got hold of what’s called a recording lathe, a machine that could turn sound waves into grooves on a piece of vinyl.
Other music enthusiasts copied the design.
And because the vinyl that record albums are usually made of wasn’t available, they used what they did have: old X-ray plates from hospitals.
They used their makeshift lathes to print very basic records into these X-rays, cutting them into round shapes with scissors and sometimes burning a center hole with a lit cigarette.
The records became known as “bone music,” and it’s said that by the 1960s every major Soviet city had bootlegs of American and British pop hits that anyone could get if they looked hard enough.
Though what they got wasn’t always what it appeared.
The author of a book on bone music says a person might ask for a song like Bill Haley’s landmark “Rock Around the Clock,” and they’d get a bone record with that title on it.
The actual song on the record might be completely different, and there was virtually no way to know otherwise.
But, still, these makeshift records were treasured.
People, after all, will sometimes go to great lengths to hear a great song.
This weekend it’s the Great Delaware Kite Festival.
There will, of course, be kite flying contests.
But since it’s Easter weekend, there’s also going to be a two member Egg Toss competition.
That takes place after the kite flying, which is probably the right order of operations.
Soviet-era bootleg music recorded on discarded X-ray plates (New Scientist)
2022 Great Delaware Kite Festival (Visit Delaware)