This post is a natural follow-up to my earlier post, Things I Miss: Record Stores, in which I bemoaned the decline and near-extinction of record shops. Yesterday, I looked at a pile of record albums that Don had in the office and I pulled out a few favorites. I bought Don a turntable a few years back. It’s not near the quality of the one I had and threw out when we moved to the cottage. (What was I thinking?) But it will do. I started with the album on the left, The Kenny Rankin Album, which has always been one of my favorites. In fact, I have a copy out in the shed that lives with all my other albums – albums that are in bad shape because they’ve been housed in boxes in a place they shouldn’t be for far too long.
This particular record album is one of a group that we’ve picked up at yard sales and vintage/antique shops. I guess they are considered vintage now. I am most likely considered vintage as well. And this vintage girl misses record albums. Yes, I know there are still vinyl records being produced and the fact that some artists feel they should be recording on vinyl makes me happy. But they are being produced in very limited quantities and only by a few artists.
Back to Kenny Rankin. Obviously, this is a used album and with it comes the pops and extraneous sounds of a older vinyl record. I love it. I don’t know if this will make sense, but there is something more honest, more real about those sounds. If I had been lucky enough to hear Kenny Rankin sing live, I would have heard all sorts of extraneous sounds. It’s part of the experience. It keeps the recording from being too perfect. It keeps it from being botoxed into a false, flawless version of itself.
My listening ears also hear a warmth in the sound of vinyl that is missing from a CD or MP3.
I was able to hold the album cover in my hands, admire the artwork, read the liner notes. The artwork got the attention it richly deserved.
There’s something tangible about a record album. It honors the artist, the producer, the engineers in a big way. I have a lot of CDs and I like them, don’t get me wrong. But there’s something different about an album. It hasn’t whittled everything down to the tiny print and tiny artwork that will fit in a plastic CD case. It treats the music like what it is; a big idea, a dream come true, hours and hours of time spent writing, scoring, recording.
Sometimes, our quest for perfection leads us too far. LPs have been replaced by CDs. CDs are being replaced by MP3s. Is there anything tangible anymore? Anything you can hold in your hands and admire, just as much as you admire the music? Yesterday, as I listened to Kenny Rankin, I searched Amazon for his recordings. Some are available in very expensive used versions (on CD) and some are only available as MP3s. What?? I love my laptop and my iPhone, which have many of my favorites available for listening anytime, but it’s all virtual. I don’t always want to be tethered to my laptop or iPhone. I want something I can hold in my hands, that is of the size that befits the music.
(By the way, in the other post I mentioned that even CDs are hard to find in stores nowadays. And I mentioned that Barnes & Noble still carried them but that the amount of stock was dwindling. The other day I decided to check out that department and was shocked to see that over 3/4 of the stock was DVDs and BlueRay movies. There were very few CDs.)
So, back to the albums. I have a friend who has saved every long playing album he has ever purchased. He has an unbelievably extensive collection that he treats with the care that one would give a fine antique. I should have taken more care with my large collection. So, I vow to hunt down my favorite albums in the years ahead; gather, accumulate and play them.
A better turntable is also on my wish list.
I saw a used record shop right near the Strand Bookstore in NYC the last time I was there. Guess where I might be heading on my next trip into the city?
Congratulations to Tana, who won the copy of Into the Darkest Corner. I’ve sent your mailing address to TLC Book Tours. Happy reading!