In today’s world, convenience is king. Though I’d like to say I’m above this way of thinking and people need to focus more on learning how to overcome struggles on their own, I rely on modern comforts as much as anyone.
I have multiple robotic servants in my home. One of them cleans my carpet for me and the other answers my questions when I’m too lazy to consult Google. Sometimes I feel like I’m in an episode of “The Jetsons,” minus the flying car.
I’m sure Elon Musk is working on that right now.
But there is one element of my home that is quite analogue: My record player. Some people collect vinyl records because they are audiophiles; they cannot settle for the sound quality of any other medium. I’m not one of those people.
Sure, I own a stereo amplifier, a set of speakers and turntable, but it’s not for any kind of elitist purpose.
For me, it’s about the ritual of putting on a record. Turning on the amp, grabbing a record, raising the cuing lever, watching the record spin, placing the needle down in the groove. It’s so much more of an experience than opening up Apple Music on my phone and pressing play.
There’s really nothing practical about collecting vinyl. You have to make sure the tonearm is balanced, make sure you don’t damage your stylus, ensure you handle your record correctly. I’ve already gone through several different old, finicky amplifiers that randomly have decided to stop working.
But there’s something about the physical nature of the medium that’s fun for me. It forces you to sit there and listen to an entire album as a cohesive work of art, just as the artist intended. Sure, you could space out on your phone while the record is playing, but it’s better to study the artwork and the liner notes instead.
There’s also something about the process of deciding which record to play. When I look through my collection, I’m reminded of exactly where I was when I got the record. I’m taken back to the musty smell of an antique store, the colorful posters at a record shop or the sound of laughter on Christmas morning.
Of course, I enjoy streaming music, too. But when I pick a song on my phone, it doesn’t exactly ignite the senses.
Another great thing about collecting vinyl is the thrill of the hunt. There’s hardly anything better than finding an original copy of a classic album in great condition just laying around at a garage sale.
A couple of years ago, my wife and I inherited my father-in-law’s entire record collection, which comprises of laundry baskets upon laundry baskets of vintage albums. I probably now own more than 1,000 records, if I had to guess.
As someone who hates clutter, the idea of owning that much of anything usually would make me cringe. But I always take exception to music. Plus, maybe one day I can pass some of these records on to my own kids.
By then, there probably will be implantation devices that allow you to listen to music just by thinking of a song. So, they probably won’t be very interested. It’ll be worth a try though.
After reading 600 words about my nerdy obsession with an irrelevant medium, you’re probably wanting some kind of moral or takeaway. Well, I don’t really have one. I suppose I can say that in this fast-paced, convenience-driven world, sometimes it’s nice to be a little inconvenienced by a process if it results in something you love.
Now excuse me as I ask Alexa where to find a new amplifier.