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.


MissTrixi said...

"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."

Thankfully, the person you're currently dating has hours and hours logged as a record store tag-along. AND she happens to love flipping through the stacks and looking at album cover artwork. Every crate holds a treasure.

You know, cd's just don't have that glorious crackle and pop that vinly does. That little nuance always takes me back.


So, when's our next trip to Ameoba?

Jon Hunt said...

Oh, boy, you just set yourself up for THAT one! TOMORROW!!! TOMORROW AFTERNOON!!!

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

i just got the Crosley CR40!

Superbadfriend said...

Jon. Trix. One of my most memorable unexpected moments during the trip was sitting there listening to the records you were hand selecting. There was something so natural and so relaxing and definitely nostalgic about listening to those records.

The designer geek in me was going ga-ga over the album art as well. Damn, I can honestly say it has been more than a decade since I last experienced a night like that. It was fucking beautiful. Thank you!

You know what?

Make a list of all the albums you dream of. I want to contribute to the Jonny and Trix dream record stack. I came across a treasure trove of 'em back home. I'll keep my eye out for the good ones. Just make the list!!!


Anonymous said...

Again, right on, Jon.
Stop by the We Finally Have A Record Player thread at the Room and let's chat.
Great writing.

Max Sparber said...

Record album cover art i so much more satisfying than CD cover art.

LAP said...

Mmmmm. Records.

I got a great midcentury cabinet stereo with an awesome, awesome record player in it at Goodwill for $12.99 right before I moved last fall, and I am sure that's why I love this apartment so much. The experience as a listener is just so much better, as much as I adore the instant gratification of itunes.

I know some of my record buyer is me actively trying to replace my youth, but it's also true that I feel like a spandy-fresh 8 yr old again every time I listen to "More of the Monkees".

Ashley! said...

Anytime anyone mentions Close to the Edge, I automatically go "weee!"

I've never taken anyone I dated with me to a record store. I get into intense focus mode, inspecting conditions, fawning over the art.

Oh, the infamous Mantovani $1 vinyl. I've got more Chuck Mangione and Herb Alpert than I'll ever need! Damn, $1 vinyl bins, damn them!

We need to go record hoppin'.
And from one vinyl geek to another you need to go check out Rhino in Claremont:

They sometimes have really annoying in-stores and metal heads lined up in front of it, but you'll flip over their collection.

Jeffrey M. Rosado said...

That vinyl dispatch makes me wanna hit the road to the legendary Great Escape in Nashville; the Black Crowes once stated in Rolling Stone that while visiting there on tour, a crew member went along on a shopping trip...and that they never saw him again :-)

About to get a turntable with USB capabilities to put some of my most obscure albums on my i-pod.....

Chris Hill said...

I just spun The Bee Gees Main Course on my trusty turntable on Friday. I think part of the experience is that you sit there with the album looking at the liner notes and really listening, because you have to be on hand to flip the record. You can't just put on a neverending playlist and walk away, letting it become background music. Vinyl is more intimate. My nieces call them my giant CD's.

Tilt Araiza said...

I've just spent £15 I probably can't afford on a Fleet Foxes LP. Reading this disperses the buyer's remorse.

By the way, Jon. Do you have an opinion on Fleet Foxes? When I saw them tonight, they put me in mind of Silvergirl and the one Silver Phial song I've heard.

Superbadfriend said...

About to get a turntable with USB capabilities to put some of my most obscure albums on my i-pod.

~WOW! I had no idea that even existed. That's brilliant!