Thursday, August 24, 2006

Daily Records

I've been fascinated with vinyl records lately. Don't get me wrong, I've ALWAYS been fascinated with vinyl records - at least since my brother brought home copies of "Who's Next" by the Who and "Sticky Fingers" by the Rolling Stones when I was around seven years old. There's just something about those big sleeves and the crackle and pop of the lead groove when you put them on your turntable that makes me shiver.

Although I bought thousands of them, I never quite took to the compact disc the way I did to my beloved vinyl. Sure I liked the convenience and I guess the sound is fine but, over the years I realized that they changed the way I listened to music. Some of it was good - it became much easier to listen to music in the car or at work or outside. But I also started to spend less time just listening to music as a opposed to listening while driving or working or hanging out with friends or doing dishes or cleaning the house or whatever. This is partly because I got older and had less free time to lay around playing records than I did when I was a teenager but, I think it was more than that. When you can play music whenever you want, what is your motivation to make time to just sit and listen to music?

With the advent of CDs and better car stereos it became commonplace to listen to a new record on your way home from the store you bought it at. In the era when vinyl was king, I'd race home as fast as I could, charge into the house and put that new slab of plastic on the turntable to see what is sounded like. This built up a level of anticipation that just isn't possible with instant gratification.

A few years ago, I bought an iPod and was amazed to see how easy it was to start selling off my CD collection as I backed the mp3 files up on my computer. I found that I didn't care much at all about the actual CDs, it was the music inside that I needed. Conversely, I've never even considered getting rid of my substantial collection vinyl. Hell, I've even continued to add to it, especially recently.

Records are somehow more organic for me. There is beauty in the sleeve and beauty in the label and beauty in the way they feel in your hand, in how careful you have to be with them to keep from fucking them up and finally there is also beauty in the music within. I don't think that they specifically sound better (as a lot of vinyl purists do) or worse (as most people do) than CDs or mp3s. I just think they sound different and that to me is a beautiful thing. Playing a record is just a different experience. I don't really know how else to explain it.

Most of the music I buy these days is off of iTunes or eMusic (the most amazing indie music store in the world!, check it out) and I really like the immediacy of that. I like the idea that I can download a new record on the morning of it's release and listen to it five minutes later on the way to work. But once in awhile I like to buy a new record - a new release or maybe something from the used bin, or a new single - just to bask in the ritual of it all. Just to feel that rush of anticipation as I claw my way through the cellophane and drop the needle on a new record for the first time. It always reminds me of everything I love about music.

By the way, "Daily Records" is the name of song by the Who from their "Who Are You" album, which is, of course, part of my vast collection of vinyl treasures.

No comments: