I know what you’re thinking… There is a certain stigma that comes from someone who buys vinyl. If you are immediately thinking that I am John Cusack’s character in “High Fidelity”, you couldn’t be further from the truth. While I do like the “indie” genre of music and like to think I know a lot about the more obscure side of the alternative world, I accept music of all genres. Even the dreaded Top 40.
I started getting into vinyl when I was in college. My aunt was a new-wave/punk kid in the 80’s and probably has the best taste in music out of anyone I know. I got a record player for Christmas and that summer, she gave me her entire record collection. I remember rifling through the pile of 20+ albums and finding artists like The Clash, General Public and Tears for Fears mixed in with Wham!, Madonna and this amazing Greenpeace compilation album. I felt cooler than cool, hauling them up to my dorm room on move-in day and having everyone give quizzical looks. When people would come to visit, they would ask how it worked like it was some type of weird invention. I guess it’s probably the same reaction now when the younger generation sees a cassette tape for the first time. I played my collection for hours a day, stopping only to switch from side A to B, and those records were with me when writing papers, sneakily drinking malt liquor and falling in love.
Listening to vinyl, even with the little scratches and pops, is, in my opinion, the most beautiful, perfect way to experience music. Every record is unique and has its own little flaws. In a way, that dusty jazz record you picked up at a thrift store for $1 is one of a kind. It was loved and cherished by someone before you and they left their own dust and fingerprints that can never be replicated. It should also be noted that the artwork on Vinyl is simply amazing and a lot better than a puny CD version. Some artists have even been releasing special edition LP’s that are works of art in their own right.
I’ve become a serious collector in the last year or two. I still rummage through the $1 bins at the local record store/thrift store, but i’ve started to spend way more money than I should on real gems. I recently spent over $110 on a promo copy of a Steppenwolf album, although it should be noted that it was for my father but i’m sure it will eventually find its way into my collection. I have a particular fondness for collecting soundtracks on vinyl and especially look out for old Disney movie soundtracks. I’m still looking for a good copy of “Peter Pan” and “Mary Poppins” (the Julie Andrews version, of course!).
Within the last couple of years, the record industry has begun to once again flourish thanks to artists agreeing to press their music on vinyl. I do not buy CD’s anymore and stay strictly to purchasing a glorious piece of plastic at my local record store. For those people who still like to have their collection digitized, most artists include a little slip of paper with a code to download the same album for free. For someone who tries VERY hard not to illegally download, this new development allows me to put money, or at least some money, in the pockets of those hardworking musicans. It sure beats buying songs on itunes and having the musician receive little to no compensation.
Collecting vinyl for me has always been a personal joy, but now it is becoming more practical. I urge you to pull out your parents turntable, or buy your own (you can get them at target for a decent price) and start spinning some tunes. I guarantee you have never heard music the same way from a disc or through your laptop’s speakers. Happy listening!