I’m a big fan of vinyl. Even in the age of digital convenience, I still prefer the pops and hisses that only vinyl can provide. There’s also a warmth and depth to the sound that is lost. I’ve been collecting records for about 5 or 6 years now and have managed to find quite a few of my favorite albums either in record stores or by chance in thrift stores. Some others have also been give to me by siblings an friends. For special selections which I must have, I go to Baltimore’s Soundgarden and pick up re-issues of classic albums.
As my collection has grown I’ve ended up with about 60 records in total. Many of them are personal favorites (Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, U2, Johnny Cash), but others are just odd and random selections (German Beer Hall Music, Eastern European Gypsy Music, the soundtrack for The Sting).
A few months back, my girlfriend and I started what we like to call Record Night, which funnily enough was inspired by a scene from the movie Easy A. Every Wednesday night we sit down, pick a record and sit down and listen to it. Since a lot of music listening is in the background for many listeners (in the car, on the subway, running etc) it’s refreshing to actually to be able to just listen and digest the art for what it is.
Here’s what we’ve listened to so far.
The Sounds of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
Irish Favorites – The Best of the Mummers – “Aqua String Band”
Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits
This is Johnny Cash
No Jacket Required – Phil Collins
High Noon – Tex Ritter; Smash Hits – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
She’s So Unusual – Cyndi Lauper
Get Happy!! – Elvis Costello and The Attractions
I previously sang the praises of the Beatles Remasters. While I still stand by that, I still prefer the sound of vinyl over any other audio format. There’s something about the crackles and the hiss that gets me excited about listening to music. When you pull the needle down and the record starts spinning you feel like it’s an event. You’re 15 again. I don’t get that feeling with my Ipod touch (as much as I love it.) Sometimes when I’m writing or reading I just have my Itunes on shuffle and the music just kind of goes in the background. Putting down the needle and having to flip every 15-20 minutes actually forces you to enjoy the music more without any other kinds of distractions.
The first record I bought was R.E.M.’s Chronic Town about 10 years ago. I was so excited to get it (even though I didn’t have a record player) because it was out of print. Not having a record player didn’t really matter. I knew right then and there that I was going to start a record collection. When I got home and slipped off the plastic casing, I was overcome by the smell of weed. I told my older brother of the find and the weed smell. He didn’t believe me until he checked it out himself.
A few years later my grandmother gave me her old record player and a bunch of her old records including some Hungarian Gypsy music. If you’re wondering what it sounded like – it’s pretty much whatever you expect Hungarian Gypsy music to sound like. Over the years, I acquired some records from people who were giving them away. But my collection didn’t really expand until I moved to Baltimore about 4 years ago.
I’d say Baltimore has about one really fantastic place to find really good Vinyl and thats Soundgarden. Their main attraction for me is reissues. I’ve gotten Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited there. There are a couple of other places I’ve found older records such as Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom and Jimi Hendrix’s SuperHits, but they’ve been pretty hit or miss. (Perhaps one day I’ll go in and blog about those in more detail.)
My dream is to one day have an entire room devoted to records. Here’s my wishlist for vinyl:
Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (This one I bought in Italy, but ended up giving it to my brother as a present.)
Bob Dylan – The Free Wheelin’ Bob Dylan/Blood on the Tracks
Any Ray Charles
Any Billie Holiday
Frank Sinatra – In The Wee Small Hours
The Velvet Underground & Nico
The Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed/Exile on Main St.
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme