2017-12-14 / Viewpoint

The VIEW from here

Vinyl comes full circle


Andrew Dietderich—Staff Writer Andrew Dietderich—Staff Writer The first time I downloaded a song from the internet in 1999 is as clear as day.

I viewed it as the be-all, endall of a never-ending quest to build my music collection.

The quest began when, as a youngster, I would head to “our” local Kmart to flip through the latest collection of 45 singles on vinyl. The memory of taking home a copy of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” is vivid.

Cassette tapes came next. Kmart had two beautiful aisles of cassettes.

They were a bit pricey for a kid. One also had to hope that — gasp! – the sound of a garbled tape would never emanate from the speakers, a sign that a tape had been “eaten” and it was toast.

Another upside to cassettes? You didn’t have to ask to use dad’s expensive record player.

I remember my first two CDs, too — slick, shiny and you could skip ahead to the next song with the push of a button.

Somewhere along the line, even CDs lost their luster. Digital seemed easier. Click the mouse button a couple of times, the music is on your computer.

It was easy. And no fun.

Gone were the days of the music hunt — no more hoping you could find that used CD you wanted. No more gift certificates to places like Harmony House or Musicland, where one would have to decide how to use the gift certificates — big, fun decisions for a kid.

That’s why I find myself in a place today that I never would have imagined when I first downloaded that song in 1999 — building a collection of vinyl records.

Of course, vinyl records have always been there, especially after my dad passed his on to me (though he never fails to mention how I “have all his good albums” whenever we talk vinyl).

It’s hard to pinpoint, what exactly, I like best about it. It could be that a vinyl record album feels like something.

You have to be careful when you hold it. Gently put the needle on to play. If you want to skip ahead, you get off your butt and lift the arm of the turntable and move it.

There’s also the hunt.

It’s fun to hit garage/estate sales and thrift stores with the possibility of hitting a goldmine of vinyl (it still does happen these days, though far less frequently then even a couple of years ago).

Still, with online marketplaces like eBay, one can still engage in the hunt. I’ve been trying to find a specific copy of Booker T and the MG’s “In the Christmas Spirit” (a mint copy of the 1967 Stax version, the one with the red Santas on it) for well over a year and still haven’t been able to find the one I want.

And, of course, there is the fact that they do actually sound better. I’ve played digital versions of songs next to vinyl versions and the difference is real.

But if I really look at it, I think the thing I like most about it is that it brings back a lot of those feelings about building my music collection that I had as a kid.

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