For the Love of Vinyl

In this digital age, it seems a strange thing to admit, but here goes: I am obsessed with vinyl records.

I am not alone in this. Several years ago, Time reported an increasing demand for vinyl—a music configuration that already had been declared dead by the record business.

But my vinyl obsession has nothing to do with being hip or trendy. A number of years ago, I realized that I could get used vinyl LPs for a buck (sometimes less) at local record stores. I immediately jumped on the bandwagon. I would spend hours at Tunes in Marlton or Voorhees flipping through the stores’ extensive supplies of used records, often emerging with 20 or 30 full-length albums under my arm for the cost of just two or three CDs. Pretty sweet deal, no?

What began as an economical way to get my hands on music quickly developed into a love affair of a much more holistic sort. I fell for the colorful jacket artwork; the sentimental crackle of the needle where it hits the grooves; and the sense of an album as a complete musical work. Sure, they may take up a lot of room, and they may be a lot more cumbersome to operate than simply hitting “shuffle” on an iTunes playlist, but vinyl LPs offer a sublime experience unmatched by any digital format.

These days, I’m no longer only interested in buying the older stuff, although there are hundreds of titles I still long to own. (I’m all ears if anyone’s got a copy of Nilsson Schmilsson.) When a contemporary artist releases a new album, the first thing I try to do is find it is on vinyl. For instance, I recently bought a vinyl LP of G. Love’s newest effort, Fixin’ To Die. The record itself was a bright, cherry red (very cool). Inside the sleeve was a coupon redeemable for a free digital copy of the album—which means that I still get to listen even when I’m away from my turntable.

I’m not sure how many records I’ve amassed to date; the number is somewhere around 200—minuscule by the standards of long-time collectors. In order to get a better handle on my collection, I recently started cataloguing each record and publishing that catalog on a new Tumblr blog, which you can check out here It’s a work in progress, but I’m having fun carefully dissecting my collection for the first time, while also playing some records that have never been touched by a needle.

If you’ve got a similar vinyl obsession, let me know. I’m always looking to share the love.

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