Being fifty-something, I’m prone to reminiscence.
Today, I went scurrying beneath the house to unearth our 70s/80s vinyl record collection.
A copywriting assignment for a vinyl record retailer got me inspired. As I waxed lyrical about the warmth of high fidelity sound, I got to thinking about the records and artists that underscored my growing up.
I remembered Alice Cooper’s 1977 concert at Melbourne’s Festival Hall.
I evoked angsty teenage hours spent dissecting Joan Armatrading and Patti Smith’s lyrics.
I recalled rings of girls dancing to Cyndi Lauper, circling a pile of our handbags.
For me, vinyl is about nostalgia. I guess that rings true for most over 50s. But for many, it’s about the music quality and the experience. That’s what’s driving a global resurgence of vinyl. Online and offline, there’s a fast-growing throng of folk (of all demographics) looking to own their music in a physical way. Not just vintage and old vinyl, but new releases, re-releases and rare pressings.
Just as the Kindle didn’t kill the printed book form, nor did CDs and digital formats kill vinyl.
It’s a revival. Only vinyl never actually disappeared. It just declined from fad to niche, where a loyal few appreciated it for what it was.
This week, I discovered that vinyl music has a depth of sound that simply can’t be replicated on MP3 or other digital formats. It’s to do with those physical grooves in the record that enable “more” sound – a deeper, warmer bass. That’s the gritty-ness people refer to when they rave about vinyl sound.
And what of the experience itself? How does it compare?
Flicking through a timber rack of vinyl albums VERSUS punching a title or artist name into a search box on iTunes.
Holding a record sleeve in your hands and unfolding to ogle the artwork inside VERSUS browsing thumbnail images online.
Sliding a brand new vinyl record from its plastic protector sleeve, carefully placing it on the turntable and lifting the needle arm across to where you want it VERSUS clicking a title, punching a button on a touch-screen or waiting to see what shuffles up next.
Sitting on the floor with your album sleeve reading the lyrics as you listen and sing-along versus scrolling through googled-up lyrics on a device screen.
Owning (really owning) a piece of physical music VERSUS being one of thousands (perhaps millions) accessing the same thing through a streaming service.
Having friends over to share, hand-around and convo about your vinyl collection VERSUS lending someone your iPod.
Diving deep amongst the dusty boxes under the house to retrieve your thirty-something-year-old vinyl collection VERSUS struggling to remember the password for your streaming subscription.
Now … all I need is a turntable so I can stop reminiscing and start experiencing our vinyl collection in its full glory. Not sure if I’m late to the party, or early.
What about you? Are you a vinyl-lover or vinyl-denier?
Note: This piece first appeared on http://www.ysaustralia.com