My roommates and I recently picked up a copy of comedian John Mulaney’s The Comeback Kid special on vinyl – adding to our very eclectic collection of music, poetry, and comedy. Honestly, we don’t listen to our records every night, but we’ll often throw one on when friends come over or if we’re each engrossed in our own activity. You know, for background noise.
During my last year of college, I took a course on rock n’ roll literature, which was interesting for a lot of reasons, but of them, the most important, was that I started viewing music as art as well as entertainment. Records used to be so carefully put together, taking in the order of the tracklist and where one would flip from Side A to Side B. The only way you could skip tracks was if you actually picked up the needle and moved it, a risky move if you were worried about scratching the record as a whole.
…the playlists I made as a kid were not curated well. To be honest, I wasn’t thinking of the tone of the song, just the music that I wanted to listen to…
I don’t know about you, but the playlists I made as a kid were not curated well. To be honest, I wasn’t thinking of the tone of the song, just the music that I wanted to listen to, especially as my first foray into portable music was through an old iPod shuffle. A dark time, perhaps because I couldn’t see my own playlist, but I could skip through the twisted list until I got to be where I wanted. The point was to be entertained.
So what’s so important about going back to vinyl?
…I think it’s much more an opportunity for us to think about a record in a purposeful manner.
It often feels like a millennial’s or a Generation Z-er’s choice to own vinyl is for the appearance of owning a record player, but I think it’s much more an opportunity for us to think about a record in a purposeful manner. Why does the first song come first? What path are we on with the artist as we move from track to track, side to side?
I often think of The 1975’s I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet some unaware of it, moving from the introductory titular track “The 1975” through an incredible journey all the way to the closing “She Lays Down.” It’s definitely on my vinyl ‘to buy’ list. Maybe this is a chance for us to see the craftsmanship of a whole picture rather than a single slice.
When my parents bought a record player, they loved the novelty of having one in the house again. They picked up a few newer albums based on my recommendations and my siblings’ preferences (hence, why the Trolls soundtrack on vinyl exists in their home), and I think they had a great time talking about setting the needle and how to handle a record correctly. Then my mom pulled out her Partridge Family Christmas collection and went to town. While my parents didn’t still have any really popular albums from their childhoods, it was a cool way to see what they listened to, even if I wasn’t really into it.
…with the resurgence of vinyl, I hope people take time to really listen, to the ups and downs, to the story that’s told…
With Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify, I don’t think people will stop customizing their music experience. People will use their creativity to make their own albums that tell a story, and that’s great. However, with the resurgence of vinyl, I hope people take time to really listen, to the ups and downs, to the story that’s told, and I hope it’s not just playing in the background. It deserves to be center stage.
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