Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Thing About Vinyl

As you may or may not know, I've recently started collecting vinyl (you can see my collection here) and I finally got something to play them on for Christmas. The first album I wanted to hear on vinyl (and, honestly, the one that got me started on this in the first place) was Matt Nathanson's Modern Love.  After reading his blog post about hearing it on vinyl for the first time, I knew I had to hear it.  So when I got my turntable for Christmas I knew I wasn't going to go to sleep that night until it had been played.

That just so happened to take until about 3:00 the next morning, but it was totally worth the wait.  It was fucking amazing, to put it lightly.  You can read about it here.

Since then, I've been making my way through my collection.  I don't honestly remember what I played next, but I'm sure it was awesome.  I love the sound of a record on vinyl (especially the old ones, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' Damn the Torpedoes was sweet this morning), it just sounds more real.  It is less processed than digital music - like the difference between fresh green beans and canned.  I just love it.

I also love the physicality of music on vinyl.  I like digging through a big pile of records to find the one I want - so much more satisfying than using the track wheel on my iPod to find the song.  And then there is the cover art, the sleeve, the record itself.  Being able to hold this tangible thing in my hand that contains so much magic.  It's just very cool.  I even like having to flip the record when side one is finished.  It makes the entire listening experience much less passive.

I think the advent of digital music has ruined us as listeners. We can just put on some tunes and they can literally play for days without us ever having to interact.  On the one hand, that is awesome and I love it.  On the other hand, it has made music seem almost disposable or something.  It has just become background noise for a lot of people and I hate that.  But, it's not just music, it's everything, we live in a very instant gratification, disposable society and I'm not a big fan of that.  We just take everything for granted.

But here's the thing about vinyl.  While it has increased my distaste for where the world is heading, it has also made me appreciate our new technology in a way I never did before.  Sure, I used to have a huge collection of cassettes and I remember how awesome it was when CD's became the big thing and I could listen to the ENTIRE album without flipping it over and I could skip from song to song without having to fast forward or rewind.  And never has a CD player eaten a CD - oh the pain of pulling my completely destroyed copy of The Razor's Edge out of the cassette player in the car!  But still, even cassette players were portable.  I could have it any room in my house, there was one in my car - not like a turntable.  A turntable is stationary, wherever you put it, that's where it is.

When the record needs to be flipped or a new one put on, you have to stop what you're doing, go to where it is and handle it.  No remotes, no super long play lists, no iPod on your hip with your entire music collection at your fingertips.  I finally have some perspective now on why the generation before mine was so thrilled to be rid of vinyl and why they think my generation is nuts for wanting to bring it back.  I guess for some of us, the better sound (and by "better" I mean more real, more rich, not more perfect - "perfection" is something computers inflict on music) and the more fulfilling overall experience is worth the inconvenience of it, especially since we can always turn our iPods back on when the mood strikes us.

No comments:

Post a Comment