Let’s get this out of the way. I love collecting viny recordsl. And as silly as it seems, I enjoy placing an album on the turntable, lifting the tone arm, and gently easing the needle onto the record. Furthermore, I enjoy flipping through my record collection until one of the albums “calls my name.” There is something therapeutic about it, and I’m not entirely sure why.
Interestingly enough, around 1999, I junked my turntable, put all my records into boxes, and stored them away. The reality of the time was that CD’s ruled the day. I mean, who in their right mind was listening to records anymore? Besides, you couldn’t find a store that still stocked records. They had faded into the past.
So there my records sat, at least 300 or more stored away, never to be heard from again. That was until one day, around 1999, I discovered a pipe slowly leaking water into the boxes for who knows how long. About 250 of the 300 were trashed and warped. At the time, I wasn’t that upset because I didn’t think they’d ever see the light of day again.
Looking back, it took years to build that collection. I can tell you where each record was purchased and what compelled me to buy it. I definitely remember my first purchase, Elton John’s ‘Honky Chateau.’ The songs “Rocket Man” and “Honky Cat” were in heavy radio rotation, and I had to have this album. I dragged my dad down to the local record store; the rest is history.
Fast forward to around 2014. I was on Craigslist, looking for guitar gear, and saw someone selling the same turntable I had discarded. This coincided with me reading articles about how vinyl was coming back. I still had my Yamaha receiver and Klipsch KG.4 speakers from the early ’90s, so I bought the turntable. It was a Technics SL-23 that was in excellent condition. The “Made in Japan” turntables of that era were solid and compare favorably to many of the new models you can purchase today.
As a result of this new purchase, I was the proud owner of a used turntable and the 50 or so records that survived the “flood.” It wasn’t long before I had everything hooked up and ready to go. The first record up is Steely Dan’s “Aja.” Yep, that sounds fantastic. Returning to the remaining albums, I pulled out “Candy O” by the Cars. This was starting to get fun, and before I knew it, three hours had passed.
During this little listening party, my kids entered the room, wondering what all the fuss was about. They were 13, 11, and 4 and had never seen a turntable in action. They looked in amazement and wondered how all that music was coming from this gadget. I was surprised they thought it was pretty cool, and I explained how it all worked. Of course, one of them didn’t take long to ask, “Wouldn’t it be easier to just listen to music on your phone?” All I could think is, yes, it would be easier…but not as fun. I was really enjoying the experience of reliving the past.
Those 50 records kept me busy for a while, but then I started thinking about all those destroyed years earlier. This, combined with “nostalgia fever” running full steam, led me to frequent used record stores. It didn’t take long for me to start buying records in bulk. I was determined to reclaim my entire collection within a few months.
I was amazed at how many people had sold their record collections to these stores for pennies on the dollar. I was buying up all of my favorites for about five to six dollars apiece. A part of me kept asking myself, “But don’t you already have all of these MP3s or CDs?”. Yep, but I didn’t care. I was having fun.
The reality was that although Pandora and Apple Music were highly convenient, they lacked that certain “something.” Those formats always turned into a “greatest hits” listening experience. I stopped paying attention to all of the great songs known as “deep cuts,” the songs that weren’t hits.
As I write this, I’m listening to “Late for the Sky,” the classic album by Jackson Browne. The glow of the strobe light on the turntable, and the guitar solo on the title song (by the recently departed David Lindley), put a smile on my face. I seemed to have recaptured a part of my past and wouldn’t have it any other way.
There you have it, my story on why I’m still listening to vinyl. It’s not an attempt to fit in with all the hipsters who got turned onto vinyl over the past decade. Vinyl has made a comeback, and you see every artist releasing albums in the format.
Yes, new records are expensive, most for over twenty dollars. Additionally, there are minor inconveniences with vinyl cleaning and turntable maintenance. And, of course, the pops and clicks from imperfections or dust on the album. Funny, though, many companies make plugins, such as XLN’s RC-20, so that you can add back that magical sound; I choose to purchase used and occasionally splurge on a new release on 180gm vinyl. I’m enjoying music again, and if you decide to follow my path, I think you will too! Look for my future posts on why I think vinyl sounds better and what equipment you should consider if you want to join in on the fun.
If you’re enjoying vinyl, comment and let us know why you decided to keep the records spinning!