Friday, June 13, 2008
On The Joys Of Vinyl
I recently bought a record player (note: not the one pictured here -- I love that "Tubular Bells" is kind of hovering in the background, though, that's awesome!). You'd figure that someone like me (read: total geek) would never be without a record player and you'd mostly be right -- however, our shitty moving company damaged my turntable in the move and I've been dying to play my vinyl.
Why? you ask. That whole thing about vinyl being "warmer" is a myth. CD resolution has progressed to a point where the difference is indecipherable. And you can't play a record in your car, can you, Mr. Two Hours A Day In Traffic? I know all that. I really do.
But no matter what you try to tell me about bit sampling or whatever, I honestly don't care. I'm not an audiophile. Do you know what my record player cost? 88 bucks. It has two built-in speakers (which actually sound pretty good) and no line-outs, so I couldn't plug in Harmon Kardens if I even wanted to. Which I don't. Honestly.
To me, half the joy of playing recorded music is experiential. There's a kind of primal glee derived from pulling a record out of the sleeve and putting it on a turntable. I don't know if its nostalgia, or if its just a feeling of substantiality, that the music you're about to listen to has actual weight. Part of it is most certainly the smell of the thing -- there's a particular scent of old vinyl and record album covers that powerfully evokes pleasant afternoons spent as a teenager listening to Yes' "Close To The Edge" over and over again.
Furthermore: I love, love, love flipping through racks and racks of old vinyl. Ask anybody I've ever dated, especially the ones who fucking hated that fact. I can spend three, four hours at a record store picking out one-dollar Mantovani and Glen Campbell LPs and be happy as a clam. Flipping through "CD WORLD"'s racks of used CDs doesn't have that same thrill of discovery. The "click click click" of those little plastic cases will never replace that satisfying "whoomp whoomp whoomp" of record sleeves banging up against each other.
I just love having records, y'know? There's something so comforting about those piles of 12-inchers sitting in a corner. It makes me feel so worldly-wise and grown-up. Like a cocktail party with Tiki glasses and butter mints might break out at any time, completely out of my control. And there's something so damn satisfying about getting in a mood, any mood, and finding the perfect record to go along with it. Punching it into my iPod? NOT THE SAME. Not even close.
Recently, I thought to myself: if I were to suddenly come into several thousand dollars, and could get anything for myself, anything at all, what would I get? I thought about what would make me the happiest, and honestly, the thing that sprung to mind first was just man, I'd love to head to Amoeba and flip through some records and buy a big stack without worrying about whether I could afford 'em. Simple. If I were to describe my happy place? That would be it.