What’s with kids these days? First we’re pioneers of the latest technology, then suddenly we’re waxing nostalgic for an era we weren’t a part of.
After years of disregard we’ve now restored our interest in vinyl – a change in direction that’s probably warranted a few “I told you so” looks from our parents.
We all know that one person determined to lecture us about the superiority of vinyl, but excluding them, the prestige is still pretty widespread. At any moment, you could probably scroll through your Instagram feed and it wouldn’t take long to find an artfully angled video someone posted of a spinning record.
But for every person who really wants you to know they listen to vinyl, there’s another person who is having a grand old time spinning an LP and doesn’t really care whether you know it or not. So if it’s not just some status symbol, what’s the deal?
Returning to an age where your music is contained in a bunch of big round discs is at first a little counterintuitive. Everything floating around in “the cloud” is a weight off our shoulders, but there’s something to be said about wanting a little tangibility. You’re not a Luddite if you crave something physical, or want to hold something in your hands other than the latest iPhone.
Dropping the needle feels better than tapping the screen, but there’s more to it than that.
Sure, many people think it sounds better, but investing in vinyl also feels a bit like returning to film photography. At a certain point, the ability to instantly share, edit, and erase any image starts to make everything look pretty disposable. Older technology carries with it a sort of paradoxical permanence that returns value to the things we love.
In a lot of ways, this is better for artists. You might have really liked that song that was your jam for, like, a week in April, but the people who made it aren’t more than just a name to you. When you buy a record, not only do you more directly support the people who made that music, you’re giving that album space in your home and in your memory.
Your vinyl collection can even become a kind of scrapbook of past experiences. Maybe you decide to buy a new album every time you see a band play a show. Pull out an LP and voilà, an instant return to an incredible moment.
Vinyl isn’t a perfect format, but the fact that it’s well and thriving after near extinction is enough to prove its importance in our listening repertoire. It could be just a matter of time before something new knocks it back into oblivion, but who knows? Maybe vinyl is here to stay.
Rachel Narvey is the sole member of a band called Strength in Numbers. Once, she Googled the chords for Hotline Bling.