These days, when you’re strolling down the aisles of your favorite stores, you’ve probably seen something that seems just a little bit out-of-place. In fact, I can bet you’ve asked yourself at one time or another, “Did I just see what I thought I did?” After all, we all thought they were obsolete. We never thought they’d resurface again. I’m sure you ambled backwards and stopped, thinking, “Did I time travel?” It may seem likely, but the answer is still no. The resurgence of vinyl records is real, albeit an unexpected step in the evolution of music. They’re all the rage these days.
It’s definitely a surprise, considering how digital music has made the way we listen to our favorite artists as effortless as pressing a single button – with no physical copy to hold and handle. The high-definition audio has been a godsend for my generation who grew up flipping cassettes and carrying around scores of compact discs in their book bags. Digital music has changed everything.
Why has vinyl come back, though? Why are we keeping these relics around? They’re completely temperamental and difficult to use. They’re easily broken and have to be kept in pristine condition. You can’t skip songs. You have to turn the record over to hear the entire album. The sound crackles and blurs. You have to buy needles and know the difference between a 33, 45, and 78.
It’s just too much! It’s too much to deal with when we have the ability to have millions of songs at our fingertips.
This new phenomenon is not an easy one to understand. So, to gain some insight, I decided to dip my toe in the pool. I purchased a portable record player and with the few records I inherited from my grandfather, stepped into the world of vinyl. It was a little rocky, at first. I had no idea how to operate the player and had generally little knowledge about records. Yet, after a while, I started to get it. I started to understand why everyone was jumping on the bandwagon.
Listening to a vinyl record is a unique experience. It’s an event and should be treated as such. Instead of skipping from song to song like we readily do now, a vinyl record allows you to slowly savor the music. You have to sit there and listen. You don’t have another choice.
In my collection I found classic Frank Sinatra albums and original recordings of Broadway’s best. I also found a copy of Meet The Beatles, the first Beatles album to be distributed in the US, and it was still in good condition. Hearing an album that was made fifty or sixty years ago and playing it on vinyl can be mind-blowing. The quality isn’t great, but that’s not what really matters.
When you play a record you feel closer to the past. It’s not the fizzy sound or the finicky way it plays that’s bringing people back. It’s the nostalgia from a by-gone era that will have vinyl records sticking around for a while longer.
Honestly, though, it’s not for everybody. You have to be in the mood for it. You have to make a commitment to it. Records are not something that I can see everyone playing or purchasing regularly for an extended period of time. It’s a craze, but it’s a craze that is worth exploring.
Do you own and listen to vinyl records? Why do you like them? Do you think this record fad will last? Have you bought any new records recently? Tell me in the comments!