Friday, October 08, 2010

The Vinyl Comeback

Slithers of plastic in
cardboard sleeves. Mmmm...
It’s not often that middle-aged bores welcome prevailing trends, and when we do they’re usually revivalist in nature. That’s why the comeback of vinyl is to me the perfect atavistic riposte to my daughters’ way of collecting music by pressing a single button on a computer. After years of watching my favourite record and second hand shops close down one by one, my tender heart is fortified by the sight of the expanding LP sections in the few worthwhile remaining DC area music outlets. These are heavyweight, artfully manufactured items of beauty to be handled like precious antiques. They’re way too dear as well, of course, but you pay for what you value, and they could be just what the surviving emporia need to remain in business.

And so I’m slowly ceasing to buy CDs and switching back to vinyl instead. You get the MP3 download coupon into the bargain, so if you’re really anal, you never have to actually play the LP, you just preserve it. But that’s not right. When records were prematurely written off two decades ago, we purists tediously cited the ritualistic joy of carefully removing the record from its sleeves before executing with immaculate precision the act of dropping the needle on to the opening grooves. Even those of us who’ve developed the shakes find that our hands become miraculously steady when faced with this hushed ceremonial moment.