I started buying records a few months ago, and I’ve already compiled a large body of imagined insults to my person about why I’d do such a dumb, dusty thing.
In the time honored tradition of humoring your own neuroses, I’m going to respond to these accusations.
But first, an opinion:
Why you should buy records, too ¶
You shouldn’t. Or you should. Do what you want. Pluralistic societies for the win!
Okay, on to why I started buying records.
It’s slow ¶
Many would see this as a drawback, but for me, as I get older and the world gets faster and my attention becomes more precious, I find it rather meditative to attend to something as fragile as a record.
It becomes it’s own kind of ritual.
Leafing through the record spines, hearing the paper swoosh as you pull it off the shelf, carefully extracting the record, delicately placing it on the spindle, cleaning and wiping for dust as necessary.
It’s like worshiping at an altar, except instead of having to confess your sins you get to dance.
You own them ¶
Music streaming services have taken over the world, and their great, don’t get me wrong. However, about a year ago I had this moment where I realized I hadn’t bought any music in a long time.
It made me feel strange; I care about music a lot, and only using a streaming service felt like a gear head only leasing a car.
I wanted something in my hands.
Sound quality ¶
This one is more aspirational. I don’t know if I can tell the difference, sound wise, between a lossless digital file and a vinyl recording, but I hope to when I get good enough speakers to really make that apparent.
In the meantime, my records still sound great on my almost two decades old Sony 5 CD changer, tape, radio and speaker combo.
Big cover art ¶
Trivial? Maybe, but some albums have amazing artwork, and I want to hold it and gaze into it like the coffee-table-book-sized masterpiece it is.
It’s analog ¶
I like having music in the format it was indented for. For records that were recorded in analog, that’s vinyl.
If that sounds suspiciously like a lot of hand waving and magical thinking, yeah, you’re probably right. Yet I think good art always has elements of magical disbelief, so why not stretch that metaphor from the art to the medium?
I hear it’s the message.
They smell nice, too. What does an mp3 smell like?
It’s trendy ¶
This is an anti-reason.
They’re collectable ¶
It’s like trading cards for hipsters.
You can still listen to digital music ¶
This is the best part: even though I own a record player and several records, and listen to them frequently, I have not been outlawed from listening to music on my phone (at least not yet).
In a best of both worlds move I’m pretty proud of, I started ripping my records to high quality FLAC files so I could listen to them on the go, or just categorize them obsessively, or whatever, don’t judge.
That way, the files are legally mine, they are DRM free, and I can play them anywhere without an internet connection (I’m looking at you, The Subway) without having to pay for Spotify.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, you win nothing.
You can take a look at the records I’ve collected so far, if you’re into that kind of thing, you weirdo.