David Ryan Harris,
The TVD First Date

“My dad had a huge collection of vinyl. Both my parents loved music and entertaining. My dad, mostly jazz and mostly bebop, but he always had the cool bleeding edge pop stuff too. I grew up seeing record jackets used for their intended purpose, but I also was used to seeing them used as wall art, giant coasters, makeshift fans for the summer heat, and as the best place to separate the stems from the seeds (full disclosure: that didn’t happen at home with my parents).”

“For me vinyl was the only way.

I might buy the cassette version of a record every now and then, but with the cassette version you never got the benefit of seeing the cool artwork as large, and you missed out on the tactile sensation of flipping through the insert booklet and/or reading the front and back covers as if looking for clues. More often than not, if I needed a cassette version of an album for the car, I would buy the vinyl and then make a cassette copy from that. Literally the original mixtape.

When CDs were first introduced, like the rest of the world, I was excited about the idea of having pristine digital copies of all of these records that I’d loved so much. The promise of having music delivered on a virtually indestructible medium that would last forever without signal degradation (in theory) seemed incredibly space-age and awesome. I mean, just look at those things!! They look like they’re made out of spacesuit material!!!

But I digress.

What I loved more than anything as a kid was taking a trip to Little Five Points in Atlanta and going to Wax N Facts, my favorite record store. I loved that the guys who worked there knew the kinds of things that I was into musically and would make suggestions and give recommendations as to which of the week’s releases I’d like. I loved allowing myself a couple blind purchases where I would buy a vinyl based solely on how cool the cover art looked. I got really good and really fast at flipping through records.

I still remember the smell of that place. I was never a huge sports guy so vinyl records were my sports trading cards, and the players, engineers, studios, and producers were like the stats for me. I could buy a record and know with reasonable certainty what it was based on the names on the back of the record. You can’t do that now. That avenue of music discovery is gone for all practical purposes.

As is often the case, once I got a little older I began to miss some of the things that were emblematic of why I was so quick to embrace CDs (and eventually MP3s) in the first place. I missed the little crackle at the beginning of the record. I missed physically interacting with the music. I missed having to gently drop the needle in the little black spots between songs. TRUE MANUAL TRACK SELECTION. I missed having to be present enough in the listening experience that I was there to lift the arm once Side A was over.

I missed it being a contact sport. I missed being able to know that if my copy of Parliament’s “Flashlight” was the one playing at the party it was going to have a loud pop just before the last “Everybody’s got a little light under the sun.” I could identify my copy of any of my records in an auditory lineup because if you keep a record long enough it gets his own little sonic fingerprint. Skips once here. Little there, etc. In a larger construct I now realize the value of having something that is truly and physically MINE. My MP3 of a record sounds and looks just like your MP3 of the same record which sounds just like everybody else’s MP3. Make no mention of the fact that you can’t hold them in your hand.

That copy of Sign of the Times, the copy of Exile on Main Street, this copy of I Against I belong to me. I can write my name on it. And if I choose not to write my name on it, all I’d have to do is play the record and I could tell you exactly where it’s going to skip before it gets to that skip because it’s mine, I’ve listened to it a thousand times, and I remember that I made that scratch when I was reaching across the turntable to grab a Pop Tart.

All of those things are gone and in their place we have “the convenience of digital files.” God bless the art directors of the world who have come up with so many iconic images. Now they have to create for these tiny digital boxes. It went from a 12” x 12” cover to a 5” x 5” cover to now whatever tiny size you select on your ever shrinking iDevice.

So when and where I can:
Give me the vinyl.
Give me the one with the pops and clicks before the record starts.
Give me the thing that might have a fold out poster inside that I could put above my bed.
Give me the one that I have to be ever so careful with so as not to scratch it.
The thing I have to treat as if it’s precious
because it is precious.

Viva vinyl.”
David Ryan Harris

David Ryan Harris’ Songs for Other People is in stores now—on clear vinyl.

David Ryan Harris Official | Facebook | Twitter | Tour
PHOTOS: SHERVIN LAINEZ

This entry was posted in The TVD Storefront. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text