• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

12 for a penny

Ah, memories:

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) - Millions of baby boomers’ music memories connect to Terre Haute.

As teenagers or twenty-somethings, they mailed their 12-albums-for-a-penny forms to the Columbia House Record Club at 1 Music Lane in Terre Haute, Indiana.

In those pre-Internet days, the record club ads in the back of magazines looked like a sonic smorgasbord to the FM radio crowd. Just pencil in the code numbers for “Fragile” by Yes, Neil Young’s “Harvest,” ”Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits,” and nine others and within weeks, a box of vinyl discs shows up at your doorstep. “Send no money.” ”No stamp needed.”

[. . .]

Of course, for record buyers, the Terre Haute connection didn’t end with the dozen-albums-for-a-cent offer. Columbia House, after all, was a business. Getting the bargain required joining the club and agreeing to buy 10 more albums at “regular club prices” during the next two years. Some mailed back unwanted “record of the month” selections. Others, as legend has it, tried to scam the system by using fake names to get a dozen free albums.

For most folks, though, Columbia House gave the world a mail-order record shop - a concept considered routine today, but revolutionary in the 1960s and ‘70s.

That's how I got my record collection started. Who could resist an offer of 12 albums for a penny? Even the catch -- 10 albums at regular price over the next two years -- didn't seem like a big burden.

How things have changed.

I went to Google the other dy to look up the Beatles Sgt Pepper album to see if it's considered as big a deal today as it seemed back then. (It is, and then some.) In the course of that search, I ran across an article about concept albums and discovered that Frank Sinatra more or less invented the concept, or at least pushed the idea very hard. "In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning" was mentioned as a good example, so I went looking for it to add to my Amazon play list. I found it and didn't even have to buy it. As an Amazon Prime member, I have access to a million-song library, and that album is one of the offerings.

If you're in the mood for low-key moody, highly recommended album, by the way.