Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Vinyl Revival and the Definition of Ownership

For those who have been keeping up with Katz Komments, from Kansas City to Peru (not Peru, Kansas - I reach further than that), you've no doubt picked up on the fact that records mean a lot to me. See posts from 1/5 and 1/11 to refresh your memory if you're not aware of that.

A few days ago I saw yet another article on the vinyl revival. Nearly 2 million LPs were sold last year, the largest amount since the beginning of the long lost 1990's. I can't say I approve of the 180-gram, high quality pressing new release at a price tag of $18. That smacks of gauging and I doubt that the resurgence of vinyl love is from dedicated audiophiles. So, what makes the record so newly appealing?

In the New York Times, a college student mentioned that playing a record was an event. The placing of the disc on the turntable, the reading of the liner notes and album cover. True enough, There's more emotional investment in a record than a CD. More than that, the LP is the direct opposite of the download. I try to avoid generational judgments. I'm not down on IM'ing, per se, I just rail against the amount of time wasted. I have never understood why video games are supposed to be intrinsically bad compared to board games. I can assure you I spent hours playing various baseball dice games as a kid. When I play Rock Band, I can't see why it's worse. Downloads put me in a metaphysical quandary. Can you own something that has no substance? It's there all right, but what is it? You can't touch it, it has no physical manifestation at all. It's like paying for a radio song (which I do with XM anyway).

To get around that, any downloads I've bought I burn to CD, print the covers and, voila!, I have something tangible. Ah, that's better. So, I wonder, for kids who have grown up with music downloads as their sole source of music ownership, it must be nice to be able to spin a solid black disc of sound. It's real in a world of the ethereal.

Plus, nothing beats unfolding Sgt. Pepper to reveal the large Beatles portrait inside.

1 comment:

brain salad surgery said...

Not to mention the bonus of opening a double album set and seeing the few seeds and detritus of someones last listening THAT'S a smile...