Digging for Vinyl and the Meaning of Life

Courtesy of undergroundmusiclondon.wordpress.com
Courtesy of undergroundmusiclondon.wordpress.com

Yeah, I get it, vinyl is back. For some of us, it never went away, though. For some of us, it doesn’t matter whether Urban Outfitters, Amazon or Home Depot claim to be the world champion top seller of vinyl albums. We will buy it from whoever sells it, but in most cases, it’s going to be from independent record stores where we know the names of the people behind the counter and they know us. But there’s still another level, because yes, vinyl is back and it’s hip, so hipsters. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Hipsters buy music. Whether they buy it because they really like it or because it’s “cool” or because it’s “not cool” and they’re being ironic or contrarian or whatever, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, the music was bought. money changed hands and the media gets to say “Remember vinyl albums?” And that’s all well and good.

But then there’s the die-hards. The ones who never stopped. We’re in our 40s, at least. We still buy new music and reissued collectible albums, but mostly, we buy second hand records. We’re the ones buying those obscure old bands or replacing records we once had, but wore out or never got back from that ex 20 years ago. Genre means nothing to us. Some of us made a decision at some point to switch to CDs, regretted it in many ways and eventually decided to come back, full force. We’re the real diggers. Sure, we go to the trendy record store that opened up recently, sometimes feeling old, sometimes feeling young again. We also go to the one that’s been there for decades. But also, we go to Goodwill, Salvation Army, flea markets, garage sales or anywhere else we smell wax. We’re the ones who will dive through stacks of mostly disintegrated platters, smelling like the musty dust inside of Emile Berliner’s coffin, hoping to find a cheap gem or  that rare Sinatra, Beatles, Elvis, Misfits, Blondie, or who knows what. We’ll check the surface, not to bad, no major scratches, just dust, cover is still more or less intact, score.

We’ll take it home, clean it up as best we can, and carefully, excitedly, optimistically, drop the needle on it. Cracks, pops, sizzle, but then, there it is. The warm caress we were craving like aural opium. Sure, we could have heard this song anytime we wanted via Spotify or countless other means, and we do that too, but this, this is “it.” This is the stuff. This is what memories are made of right here.