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Falling in Love With Vinyl All Over Again

I originally wrote this as a Facebook post when I started collecting vinyl again. It seems to fit here.

I remember being in junior high, sprawled out on the floor in front of our giant console stereo, in our house in Jamestown, NY, listening to Led Zeppelin on the rock station I was able to pick up from New York City. I fell in love with rock music and, out of necessity, fell in love with stereo equipment, too.

In high school, out in San Diego, we had one of those crappy all-in-one turntable/tuner combos with the plastic lid. When I started working at Wendy’s, I invested some of my earnings in a cassette deck to plug into said crappy stereo. I also purchased my first vinyl: “At Budokan” and “Damn the Torpedoes.” Cheap Trick and Petty, and life was awesome.

Over the years, I upgraded equipment whenever I could. I ended up with a Yamaha tuner and amp, a Technics turntable, and a pair of beefy speakers that could blow a hole in the wall of our apartment. And of course when CD players first appeared, I got one before anyone else I knew. Music was getting more convenient, and life was awesome.

Computer CD drives that could rip tracks from music CDs really blew my mind. Couple that with downloadable music and suddenly all I really needed was a decent pair of computer speakers. I honestly don’t remember what happened to my stereo equipment. I can tell you that I dumped all but a small stack of my vinyl – some at a record shop and some in the garbage. But music was even more convenient, and life was awesome.

Today I have more than 32,000 tracks on my computer. I have Bluetooth speakers strategically placed all around the house. And I have the paid versions of both Pandora and Spotify on my iPhone. Basically, I can listen to anything I want, anytime I want, anywhere I want. It’s the ultimate in musical convenience, and life is awesome.

Or is it?

If it’s all so fucking great, why did I just invest more than I care to admit in an amp, speakers, turntable and a growing stack of new vinyl? It’s not because I’m crazy like my family thinks. It’s because I respect the music, and I realized that convenience discourages respect.

There’s a certain ritual that was part of owning vinyl records. You’d buy the album, invite your friends over to hear it, do rock-paper-scissors to see who had to flip the record, and then argue about the relative merits of each track, all while stoned out of your mind. Life really was awesome.

I don’t get stoned out of my mind much these days. But my love for the ritual of owning vinyl has definitely been rekindled. Vinyl respects the music. So if you’d like to come over and hear the new Bowie album on a real stereo, just hit me up. And show some respect, will ya?


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