“We never had a record player in the house when I was a kid even though my dad had an extensive collection.”
“By the time he got two kids I think he swapped the turntable for a 1984 Apple Macintosh so he could run his business. To get my hands on some 180 gram we’d have to go round to my grandpa’s. He had quite a few records from the Golden Age of Hollywood—a lot of musicals and film soundtracks. Really beautifully arranged music and of course really well recorded and performed.
But it wasn’t exactly what I liked to listen to as a bored kid on a grey Sunday afternoon lunch in York. As a kid I remember having a plastic record player that used a music box system to play different songs. I used to love it. I can still hear the version of “Pop Goes the Weasel.”
“There’s a real magic to vinyl. To me, they belong to an atmosphere that is conducive to looking inward versus outward. The wow and flutter, the slow steady spinning, the warm tones, the hiss and crackle. It’s almost elusive as to what exactly feels so right about listening to music on vinyl, but whatever it is, it’s magical.”
“My introduction to vinyl was through old Johnny Cash LPs at thrift shops. Some of my favorites were the records that had been the most abused. Some of them had been warped by the sun, bent, scratched, or worn down over the years, and I loved getting to know those quirks particular to each album. Those flaws became part of the music itself and I grew to love the fact that vinyl has a life of its own.
The physical process of sitting back and listening to my favorite album on vinyl is so much different than any other medium. For starters, I have to want it. I obviously cannot take a record player everywhere with me; it’s not portable so I really have to want to listen to whatever it is. With music apps, it’s easy to listen to music and not really love what I hear because it’s all so accessible, just a click away, and if I get tired of something, there’s an endless amount of other things to check out.
“I’m an American living in London and I moved to the UK over 10 years ago. I had just earned my music degree and didn’t know what to do with it.”
“I knew I didn’t want to stay in Kansas and I didn’t want to go to New York, Chicago, or LA because that seemed to be where everyone went after uni. I had spent a semester in the UK on a foreign exchange programme and I loved it, so I came back, took some evening courses at St. Martin’s and worked in a cocktail bar to meet people and just figure things out. I ended up in a synth-pop duo called Vic Twenty, which was my first band. It was then I realised indie-pop music is something I wanted to do for real. I had carved a niche for myself in the indie music scene here and it felt natural to stay and see what would happen.
It took me about 2 years to really find my feet here. When you first move somewhere (especially somewhere as huge and diverse at London) you meet all types of people and you sometimes end up hanging out with people you have nothing in common with, simply to have a person to hang out with. Especially when you’re super-young, it feels more important to hang out in packs… I’m more comfortable with my own company now, but in the early days I was out all the time with random friends I had little in common with.
“To me the sound of vinyl has an imperfect warmth. You can hear intention and delicacy. It’s how an album is best heard. You can grip the cover but you can’t get your hands around the intricacy of its sound. You lay the needle down and hear the arc. The whole story.”
“I was raised in Los Angeles by two music lovers. They named me after a Dylan song and I thought I was going to marry Paul McCartney when I was seven. For some reason we had no vinyl lying around. My mother always talked about her records and she’d say that they must “be somewhere.” Somewhere was the garage and the garage was completely haunted (no joke).
By the time I ventured in, I was fifteen. The box was big. The records were damp but they played. She had what seemed like everything. All of the original English Apple pressings of the Beatles albums that I had previously bought in shrink-wrapped jewel cases at Tower Records (RIP). I finally understood the way Abbey Road was meant to be flipped over to side 2. I could really look at the album art. They kind of felt like long lost friends. She let me keep the ones I went crazy for.
“Libraries are for records, that’s what I thought. I grew up hitting the garage sale circuit every weekend with a mother who was obsessed with collecting old 45s. The 3,000 or so that fill the library shelves still rotate through the 1957 Seeburg Jukebox in the living room.”
“Can you imagine growing up with one of those things? It is magical—chrome with blinking lights and heavy as the Chevy with winged tail lights it was impersonating. The loud CLACK of the buttons as I selected “Hound Dog” or “Everyday” or “Ballad of New Orleans.”
In the evening we wouldn’t gather around the fire. We’d gather around the jukebox. It might as well have been a time machine. Mesmerizing to behold. David Bromberg, my father’s cousin, would come by when he played town and show me how he would comb through all the Motown B sides, looking for that overlooked beauty he could cover. When my dad died he sent my mom a particular 45 for the jukebox.
“My first ever record was Shania Twain’s The Woman in Me. I still listen to it when I’m driving a lot of the time. She really inspired me as a Canadian woman in Country music.”
“I also remember the first time I listened to Elvis. My drunk second cousin was singing “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” and it stuck with me.
My record collection is pretty vast. I have everything from Waylon and Willie to Father John Misty. My current favourite is a Mahalia Jackson gospel album. I’ll sit with a glass of wine and put some candles on and just listen. It’s perfect.
“My earliest memory with vinyl was being in college and sitting in my friend’s house listening to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan on some small crappy record player that was sitting in the middle of the floor.”
“The fidelity was, by digital standards, awful, but for some reason it felt right. The sound was warm and intimate. That’s when I realized that sound quality wasn’t necessarily needed for communicating the essence or message of certain kinds of music. In the case of Dylan’s early folk albums, terrible speakers were actually a plus.
That may have been the first time I really got Dylan. So much of his music for me is in his attitude. Around that time I was listening to a lot of technical music, music with lots of notes and crazy chords.
“I got my first record player from my dad when I was a young kid. This vintage looking thing that looked like it came from outer space. I still have it in my living room, and while my vinyl collection has grown, I still listen to them on this old turntable. “
“I recently read an interview with Neil Young the other day (who is one of my favorite songwriters) and he was speaking about how he thinks vinyl amongst kids is a bit of a “fashion statement” and that record labels are taking digital masters and putting them on vinyl because there is a bit of a demand for it suddenly. I hope that is not true, and if record labels are doing that, it is bullshit.
While my dad gave me this record player, my uncle gave me his collection of vinyl to start me out. The one that sticks out most, and still hangs on the wall in my home studio is the Beatles’ A Hard Days Night. It was the soundtrack to the movie, and if you know the album, then you will know that the back has all of these individual pictures of the Beatles faces, like they were in a photo booth.
“Ahh, sweet vinyl memories. I was very, very young, about four, when I started messing around with LPs. I remember the feel of the covers, spending hours just gazing in awe. Since I became a music nerd as a youngster, I can say besides remembering the feel and the smell of those first vinyl, even say I remember the TASTE of vinyl!”
“Both my parents were cool when it came to music. They were into buying records, going to concerts, and talking music. There was constantly music in our home including vinyl and cassettes with bands that were releasing great stuff around that time (this is late ’70s and early ’80s). Notably London Calling by The Clash, Time by ELO, and Dire Straits (Private Investigations) were some of my most vivid first memories. Hearing these albums still hits me hard and all kinds of flashbacks take me back through time. However, the pivotal albums for me around that time came to be Pink Floyd’s Animals and The Wall.
The Wall and Animals not a fit for a child? Emotionally murderous dramatic music and concepts about the deepest and most hard-hitting subjects, made a daycare nanny that was having me around this time very worried and nervous. I remember my parents and the nanny having discussions about whether I was being harmed by listening to ‘adult’ music.
“Vinyl stands out like a sore thumb in today’s culture of music consumption which is what makes it so intriguing that new vinyl sales continue to increase world-wide. You can’t listen to vinyl in your car or on the train, or as you bustle and shove your way through the underground on the way to work. You can’t get vinyl for free if you know the right websites and it doesn’t all fit compactly into your pocket. It’s heavy, it’s cumbersome, it warps, skips, and scratches, and it’s expensive. But yet still more and more people each year fall back in love, or even in love for the first time, with vinyl.”
“What music formats that plead convenience do is undermine what music means to billions of music fans world-wide. Music becomes something that needs to be squeezed in while you do something else. It ceases to become a ritual, a sacred thing that one might make time for. Music is something to be multi tasked to, something enjoyed on low quality headphones or on the speakers of your phone, laptop, or iPad. Something to be listened once to and then thrown away.
What vinyl does is create space and time for the music that lies within its grooves. As soon you bring a record into your house, it demands attention. It’s heavy, so you need special shelves for it, especially if you’ve got thousands. You need a turntable, good cartridge and stylus, an amp, and speakers that will all do the record justice, and you need to set up your room for maximum listening pleasure. You need a great chair to collapse into, low lighting and posters of your favourite records. If you’re so inclined you need a bottle of good whiskey and an ashtray too.