Whether you have your own collection, or you’ve thumbed through a family member’s or friend’s, you know the intimacy of listening to a vinyl record. There is so much to say about the experience of listening to a wax album, yet words can’t quite express it.
We listen to music differently than before. We listen to music almost everywhere we go – on buses, airplanes, at the gym, at work, or while enjoying the outdoors. But so often when we listen to music, we don’t connect with it physically, mentally, or emotionally. We turn on the radio and will hear a good tune. But we numb our ears more often than we open them, as we try to drown out the heavy advertising.
We used to create our mix tapes by spending hours in our room and listening to each minute of each song. We would time the seconds to press pause while we flip the cassette. But now, we create playlists by entering search words, clicking heart and plus buttons, or just listening to someone else’s. We would subscribe to a thoughtless soundtrack that we think we like, or we think defines us.
But when we listen to vinyl……we’re brought back to the music. And we connect again. We have to think about the album we’re playing. We have to listen for the end of the record. We have to touch it and flip it and blow its dust away. We have to be gentle and thoughtful and open our ears and our hearts.
After all, vinyl is an intimate piece of music, it’s unlike any other form of music we listen to. The notes, the sounds, and the vocals are literally pressed into a circle of wax. The sound of vinyl is fuller, deeper, and richer than all other recorded forms of music. It’s as close as you can get to being in the studio with the artist.
When you play a record, you start by gently placing the needle onto it. The needle then moves over the grooves and transmits the sound that is captured in the wax. It’s incredible! It’s mind boggling! And it’s been around for more than 60 years! New artists are still releasing their albums on vinyl. It’s the only medium of recorded music that has lasted this long.
When we curate a vinyl collection, even a small one, we actively engage with music. We line up our playlist by pulling the sleeve of a record out from the rest of the jackets. Like a hand being raised in class, like stepping out from the crowd, a voice with a purpose.
Vinyl has revived for a reason. Music will forever call us to engage and we will always answer. Next time you’re tempted to upgrade your phone plan, buy that new iPad, that spotify membership, or that sirius radio subscription, I encourage you to spend $100 (or less) on a record player. Visit one of our local record stores and start collecting. Classics, such as the Beatles, the Eagles, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, the Grateful Dead, Johnny Cash, and Neil Young are often under $5. For a few dollars, you can get pure gold classics, with full album covers, a gift of lyrics, photos, and liner notes.
There are plenty of great, independently owned record stores in this city (and beyond) for you to explore, poke around, bin dive and sample for albums new and old, fresh and used.
I’m grateful for vinyl.
Vinyl will never die.
A few local record shops:
neptoon on main
audiopile on commercial
zulu on 4th
beatstreet on hastings
red cat on main