I wish I had time to sit you down and explain to you every little facet of music on vinyl that I love. I wish I could shake you out of your stupor, rip those terrible little white buds out of your ears and sit you down in front of my Hi-Fi for an analog music boot camp. But I can’t, so instead, I’ll have to pour my heart and soul onto the page, in an attempt to scribe all I can about the joys of vinyl ownership in three quarters of a page or less.
To start, it was the process that drew me in. There was something lost and romantic about drawing the curtains, smoking a joint and taking time to relax, to fiddle with my settings to get the clearest sound, to touch and examine the cover art and experience my music with more than one sense. What’s more, its the process, the ritual that is involved that allows me enjoy the music, rather than get drawn into distractions like Facebook and stumble-upon; Instead, I’m wholly focused on the sound, on each beat and refrain. People like me, we get off on the sound of a screaming guitar, or that subtle break in a vocalists wail as his voice fights hard not to give out on him. The music transcends it aural constraints and becomes a living, physical force, powerful enough to sweep you off your feet or cause your heart to race. It’s also a great time to organize thoughts and clear your head; sitting on the floor, cleaning and brushing your collection, playing records over and over again as you rediscover new favorites.
I’m also a sucker for record shops. The collector mentality runs strong in me, and the contentment I get browsing through shelves and stacks of old records is like currency. I’m the type of guy that would probably pay an entrance fee in exchange for some alone time in a particularly well-stocked record shop. So far, in my life, nothing besides sex and Disneyland surpass the feeling of elation I get when I find a great album or a “super high fidelity, limited release, Mobius Fidelity Sound Lab” pressing of one by one of my all time favorite bands. Its nice, and an integral part of being a vinyl hobbyist. We don’t have the luxury of online music stores and torrents, but that’s okay, the hunt is the fun, and addicting.
All said and done, the thing I love most about vinyl, the absolute best part, and what drives me to collect and cherish my records, is their personality. People, especially vinyl collectors, rave about the warmth of vinyl, but what they call warmth, I call personality. The records themselves are nothing more than a soft plastic with molded grooves, and tend to be extremely fragile. Any scratch or scuff at all is going to translate to pops and crackles in the audio. Additionally, the needle on a player is a precise piece of technology that translates grooves and lines into poetry. Constant use causes each record to develop its own flaws, and suddenly, the songs you’ve heard hundreds of times on your iPod becomes your record. Whats more, your stereo adds its own sound and character to the mix.
Its weird how attached to your own records you become. When you hear someone else’s copy, or even listen to your own on a different player, its still the song you love, but its not your song. It’s not your album. And therein lies the crux of vinyl ownership. It’s a very selfish hobby; it promotes time away from others and a self-seeking, self-serving sense of possession, but at the same time, its amazingly introspective, and oddly meditative. It takes music from a pastime to its deserved roll at front and center stage. I think I missed my 3/4ths of a page limit.