Monday, October 6, 2008

Why Vinyl?

Dealing with my vinyl problem

Why am I buying these re-releases and reissues of classic albums and searching out original pressings of things, like recently the Clash's 'London Calling'? What is it about these freaking record things? And it's not even that it has to be like a perfect copy or anything like that. I wanted a worn copy to be honest, slightly used, or at the very least I'd prefer a copy that was around since the release date. It's like looking at a penny that's older than you... this object has been through so much history, passed through so many hands, been a part of so many weird moments, that's what my copy of London Calling has now for me. I can't tell if the coffee stains are real, or part of the record sleeve, but it's definitely well played, and wasn't more than $5, it was perfect. That's what I'm looking for, the real experience, all those untangible things that vinyl is about.
I can't be trusted with a mint condition anything. The first time I'll take it out of the shrinkwrap put it on the turntable and go to flip it over, my finger will slip and I'll drag my nail across the entire length of the groves. I've done it. Brand new, just got it home. So that's why I've given up, as long as I can hear them, good, that's enough. If it gets ruined somehow... well, I'll care enough to replace it. Basically I'm thinking if there was a 'I am Legend' kind of scenario, I wouldn't be able to listen to a single record knowing I'm ruining something that would be irreplaceable. It's a constant struggle knowing that the spiral is degrading every time I listen to it. It's an exercise in letting that stupid shit go every time I drop the needle down.
Lately I'm buying more and more 12" reissues of stuff I already have even, but I just can't pass them up.
Here's the criteria I use on weather or not it will be purchased on vinyl: Is is a groundbreaking, totally classic complete piece of work from that band? The Magnetic Fields are releasing everything on vinyl soon and the Highway album I'll have to get, I know already. But I know part of it is because I have some kind of pack rat/collector gene, that's the problem. I did it with CD's and I even collect digital files, it's only gotten worse.
Really this is just the format I want, over the files, over the cd, even cassette.
It's also about the physical weight of carrying a stack of them across the room, it gives them an importance, they are fragile. It's the space they occupy, in the corners of the room, the endless shelves they are going to occupy. It's knowing that this is how it was originally put out in the world, from the first semblances of punk rock, the tiny bands that could barely afford enough for a four song 45 EP, so only so many were pressed and the masters long gone, taped over...this is what makes vinyl great. The 7" format still isn't too cost restrictive for the average person to press a few hundred copies of their band, and it puts the music on another level of seriousness, it's a mysterious process to have this object embedded with whatever you want to put out in the world. It's permanent and temporary at the same time.

There's talk about the warmth the argument for analog versus digital... the tiny sampling, however many thousand times a second of sound can't equal the linear spiral of continuous sound. That really doesn't matter, I don't think about it. I just know that it makes listening more important. Sure I can carry music around me on different devices and that portability is great. Being able to have your music follow you into school, to work, but it won't ever have the same reverence as ripping off the plastic and putting the needle down the first time and sitting and listening. The novelty of randomness is over, I want the entire body of work the blood and sweat that went into the song order, the length of the sides, the order of tracks. The break in the A and B side. It's not just nostalgia, how many people sat in rooms and were forced to interact with vinyl, to walk over and flip the record or fall asleep to wake up and hear that weird repeated scratching sound.
Fuck it, I'm a fetishist, a Luddite. But if I want to take this seriously I'll get the vinyl record and carry it from apartment to apartment gladly until I die.


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.

  2. japanther10:16 PM

    I apologize for the late comment... but GODDAMN. I (once again) feel like I should just shut the fuck up because someone else already said it better.

    Maybe that's why I like music anyways. I'm awkward, and other awkward people got over it and said everything I ever wanted to say, but better than me.

  3. Shut the fuck up? That goes against everything the internet stands for.
    Thanks, but I seriously just cut and pasted this from an old sassy magazine.

  4. japanther7:00 PM



    Then, by all means, please keep the copypasta up. I wonder how many other comment-less viewers you have. I had been reading your shit forever before I ever commented. I see all your posts with 0 comments, and I'm so glad that you are undeterred by that. You are a one man zine.

    On a side note, do you mind if I copypasta a review or two of yours into a zine (with your name/addy displayed) that i always threaten to start. I would be giving it away to random people at shows and artists at their merch tables, no money of course.

    I'll send you a copy if i ever make an issue...

  5. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment, seriously. It helps to not feel like such a reclusive obsessive weirdo with just another music blog. I don't mind at all, that would be great to see something actually printed on a piece of paper. Let me know, I'd be happy to revisit something for a revision or spell check, god knows it probably needs it.