A good friend of mine, years ago, tried to convince me to buy more vinyl than CDs. The digital age was just budding, iTunes was just beginning, and the idea of free music to anyone anywhere because of the digital format was taking over the universe. Imagine! Thousands of albums, all free online! All you had to do was look for it! We all fell victim to it. I was one of the worst. I had a hard-drive with over fifty gigabytes of music. I was a hoarder. It wasn’t the music. It was the fact I had it and the fact I got it for free.
Vinyl, of course, isn’t free. And the advantages of vinyl over digital are few. You can’t take vinyl with you when you go jogging. You can’t take vinyl with you when you go on road-trips. Vinyl takes up a lot of room. Vinyl is more expensive than a digital download. However, there is one thing that vinyl does better than digital files. Vinyl sounds better. You can disagree. That’s fine. You are completely allowed your own opinion. However, you are wrong. When you put a needle to an album, the sound just expands. It takes up the entire room. It seems to fill the space you give it and there is no distortion, no strange “crisping” that digital files tend to do. One of my favorite albums, “In Rainbows” should only be listened to on Vinyl and only as loud as you can. The music wants to push on you, make you want to hug it. Digital just doesn’t produce a sound like that, and if you don’t believe me, come to my house and I’ll give you a side by side comparison, free of charge.
There is also the ability to listen to the music. When you are listening to vinyl, you can’t go anywhere. You are close to it, and you listen. Even better, you have your headphones in. You are in one place for an extended period of time and you are limited in what you can do. Do we really listen to music? Or do we allow the music to be apart of our situation, background noise. I know some people think of their music like it is a soundtrack, that your day is being narrated in part by a song that is playing, like you are in a movie and you are the main character and, at the end of it, you will be the hero the movie wants you to be. But, I mean, music is meant to be appreciated. To appreciate something is to take the time to appreciate, without outside stimuli. Vinyl forces you to listen to the album, a reverse soundtrack in a way.
Am I more of a music fan than you because I listen to vinyl? Of course not. This isn’t some stupid, hipster “I’m cooler than you are” thing. I have no need to inflate my ego by telling you I’m awesome. I know I’m awesome. And I don’t care if you think so or not. No, this is just a strange moment in my life where I realize and understand that I’m changing. I am becoming a different person. Where once I only listened to music in my car, blaring it out the speakers like a jerk and annoying anyone within ear shot, I prefer to listen to my music alone, with a pair of nice headphones. Where once I felt like giving music to people, burning albums and sending files to Dropbox, I now have more fun ordering vinyl off Amazon or going to a record shop and grabbing something because it might be good. I just bought a Moqwai Vinyl like that, just that way. It was amazing and it even came with a free code to download the digital album. The two forms are not in competition. The physical and the digital can live in piece. But there is a reason why you have a girlfriend instead of a picture of a girlfriend. This metaphor could get gross fairly quickly. And I’m fine with that. How did I mix sex and music into a blog post? Are my abilities unlimited? Is there no end to my awesome? Witness amazing, reader.