ode to vinyl

The process of vinyl changes music. It’s getting your player, it’s choosing your first LP, it’s the excitement that rises as you pull it from its sleeve and put it on the player, as the needle drops and all is crackling and bated breath and then, there they come – the beautiful sounds from a simple pin on some rigid plastic.

It’s an active kind of listening, for vinyl doesn’t flip itself. If it did, it would lose something: its authenticity, its participatory nature – you scratch my grooves, I’ll scratch yours. It’d lose your attention, become part of the background, be relegated to muzak. You want it louder? Go over and turn it up. You want more music? Go over and put on another record. The process of vinyl keeps music top-of-mind. It says: “Hey, listen to me. I’m important.” It encourages the savouring of every note. It forces decisions: is this album worthy of being in my collection? Or is it cheap enough to take a gamble on it, without having heard it?

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I possess six LPs and a suitcase player with a blob of Blu-tack on the needle head to weight it down. The sound is mediocre at best. One day I’ll upgrade, and the sound will be a bear-hug from a long-lost friend. That doesn’t happen with a software upgrade of your streaming app.

Streaming relegates album artwork to a postage stamp. Vinyl is a museum on a sleeve. Vinyl is the holding of something precious in your hands every time you pick it up. Vinyl is wrapped up under the tree at Christmas. Vinyl is the book over the e-reader, the pen and the notebook over the .doc, the train over the aeroplane. Vinyl is all the things we just never have time for. Vinyl is slow food, vinyl is meditation, vinyl is reflection. Vinyl is the space bar, vinyl is a pause button on modern life. Vinyl is therapy.

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Want to read more CableWrites? Head to his website here: www.olivercable.com.

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