I was so excited for it to be Saturday because finally… WEEKEND! I actually have time to sit down and write an awesome blog post about one of the fifty billion topics that I want to blog about! Woo!
Except for the fact, I kinda sat down and was all, “Meh. It’s the weekend. I don’t want to write about anything serious today. I just want to sit and listen to records.”
And by records… I really do mean actual records.
I was very proud of myself. I finally figured out how to put a record on without accidentally sending the needle skidding across the entire record which usually happens because I forget to use the little leaver that allows for smooth needle placement.
I was born in 1984, which falls into that period of time where if you wandered into the record store you had the choice between buying a record, a cassette tape or a CD. In our house, we either had albums on record or CD… and if my mother wanted something on tape either for me or to play in the car, she’d just tape it herself.
By the time I have memories, records were largely dust collectors in our house. My mother had largely made the switch to CDs and having to use the turntable was regarded as a hassle. The rarity that they were played probably played into my obsessive interest in them.
I remember spending hours as a child just poking through the record collection looking at the cover art, wondering what they contained, and trying to figure out which ones I ought to beg my mother to play for me… an effort that was 90% of the time refused.
When James decided to finally set up the turntable in the living room a few months ago it was in the middle of him being computer-less and not having access to his 56 days worth of music collection. I was so glad that he did though, because there really is something special about listening to things on vinyl.
Sure, there’s the whole sound quality thing. I don’t really want to get into that because other people explain it better and if you don’t care, it’ll be boring. If you do care (and don’t already know) this HowStuffWorks article explains it pretty well) but what really gets me stoked is the whole process of listening to a record.
By the time I was old enough to really give a shit about music (aka my teens)… the popular formats were digital. CDs and mp3s. One of the things that’s relatively easy to do with a CD or a mp3 that’s more difficult (but certainly not impossible) to do with a record player is listen to a track in isolation from the rest of the album.
When you’re listening to music on a record, you’re committing to listen to half of an album because it’s far easier to just start the record from the beginning than have to stop and count the grooves to find your favorite song.
Growing up in an age when the next track was just a mouse click away, I didn’t listen to very many albums in their entirety or even in order. I listened to tracks in isolation almost exclusively, and up until the point where I met James, my playlist was always set to shuffle. (Nowadays, it’s only on shuffle if I’m not sure what I want to listen to.)
Only having to commit to listening to a half an album at a time with record also tends to help me listen to the entire thing. When I’m listening to an album on my computer, my rate of completion is so much lower. I tend to get bored or tired of listening to something halfway through… but when you’re listening to an album off a playlist, there isn’t that nice “go flip over the record” point. It just keeps playing until you shut it off.
I tend to want to shut off at the halfway point. The trouble is, when I come around to listening to that album again I tend to default to starting the album over from the beginning… so I only ever up listening to the first half of albums. Whereas with a record, when side one ends, I have this nice break of silence for awhile that gives my ears a rest. Sometimes I never get around to flipping it over and abandon it, but more often than not I flip it over when I’m ready to listen again.
How about you? How do you listen to your music? What formats do you gravitate towards? Do you listen to albums? Do you make playlists?