This I Believe: Choose Vinyl
There is something about the feeling of a record in your hands. There is weight to it, substance. A piece of vinyl is far from an inanimate object, but has a life of its own. It screams in pain if the needle is carelessly placed. Every time you play a record, it speaks of its life story through a collection of clicks and hisses. The story it tells is one of love.
A certain ceremony and mindfulness comes about as one gains experience with the art of using a turntable. Little things, like the way you pull a record from its sleeve, and the feeling of the disk rotating in your palm as you flip it over, take on meaning. One treats it with the care given to your grandmother’s china. It lacks the haphazardness of compact disks, where you just throw them in the player and hit a button. Records preserve the artist’s intention, making it somewhat difficult to pick and choose which song you listen to. The album must be experienced as a whole.
As a music lover, the only way to go is vinyl. It is the antithesis of today’s disposable world. When I walk into a music store and browse the collection, the first thing that comes to my mind when I see a CD I am interested in is “Why spend the money? I can just download it later at home.” Compact disks are mindless clones. Each one is exactly identical to the next, whereas every record is unique. Some people might call that uniqueness a flaw, but I call it character. Who wants to hear a digitally remastered version of Bob Dylan’s Blond on Blond?
Then there is the album art. I remember distinctly the first time I was digging through my parent’s record pile and happened upon the Beatles’ Sergeant Peppers album. Opening it up I found a magical full color, full size booklet filled with crazy pictures. It is a far cry from squinting at a tiny four and a half inch square insert that comes with your CD, struggling to make out the lyrics to a song. I still from time to time study the Andy Warhol banana print on the cover of my Velvet Underground album.
I think the most important aspect of vinyl to me is the lack of convenience. Everywhere I go there is always music playing, whether it’s the CD player in my car, my MP3 player, or the radio at work. For the most part, it is just background. I find that almost the only time I sit down and really listen to an album is when I take the time and effort to play it on my turntable, and that is why I believe in vinyl.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.