Sunday, April 13, 2008

Vinyl As Life As Love.

I'm asked, over and over, what is it about my obsession with music on vinyl. I'm asked, over and over, about my refusal to own an iPod. It makes perfect sense in my head, but I know for most of you it doesn't.

If you have to ask I know you've never heard the magic of a needle sliding through well made, perfectly pressed grooves. There are so many things that have to go right to get that feeling. If the recording isn't mixed for vinyl in the first place, you can forget it right then. If it is, you've got a chance.

If the person doing the mixing got it right, if they listened and obsessed and twirled here and slid a lever there and listened and obsessed a little more and got the final mix right, which a lot of people don't, and if that final mix is pressed onto a good piece of vinyl, which it sometimes isn't, and if that vinyl is clean, which can take a little effort sometimes to accomplish, and if your needle is in shape and at the right angle and the right pressure and you have a good cartridge and all your connections are good and you have speakers that match the acoustics for your room in the right might happen.

You can chase the sound...that perfect sound that cannot be digitized...sometimes for months, through various recordings and equipment configurations before everything that has to go right for it to happen falls into place. But when it'll understand.

You should also know it will never happen again. Not in quite the same way. Because the needle just wore on the grooves a little. New vinyl is quiet. Next time there'll be a little rumble in the grooves, no matter how much you clean them, it'll never quite sound like that first time. But you'll always remember that first time. When it all came together.

Vinyl, like love, is destined to break your heart in the most delightful of ways. It fades away gradually and everyone sees it but you. Because you remember it in a way no one else can understand.

Owning an iPod is like giving up. An iPod is friends with benefits. I will reluctantly accept CD's when I have no choice, but I will chasing the needle.

In life as well as music.


Gus said...


I know a lot of what you mean about vinyl. I am to "young" to have any sizable collection of records, and the ones I have are often not in the very best of shape. One of my good friends has a huge collection of near perfect vinyls and holds very much the opinion that you do. Here is what he did.

He bought a "digital" turntable for $150-ish that plugs into the computer via USB. He used some pretty simple recording software and started to record all of his music into MP3's. It is 'quite' the same as listening to the record itself but it allowed him to put his entire collection on an Ipod, use it in the car or at work, and enjoy his collection anywhere without the worry of damaging his records.

Listening to the MP3's you can very clearly tell they are of 'vinyl quality' and you can appreciate many of the same things about the music. Perhaps it is something you should look into.

Norcross said...

I have an almost 40,000 MP3 collection, and 3 vinyl records. I had an iPod stolen, but never replaced it. I am simply too damn impatient to switch around records.

That, and I tend to lose things.

Jewgirl said...

"Vinyl, like love, is destined to break your heart in the most delightful of ways. Owning an iPod would be like giving up. An iPod is friends with benefits."

You are truly brilliant-- You've given new meaning to addiction and chasing the needle.

by: PM, SN said...

Vinyl is making a comeback in a major way. Now that people are figuring out records are outliving compact disks...well, anyway, lots of indy bands are selling vinyl at their merch tables nowadays.

Personally, I use high-bitrate MP3s for drivin' around and sharing music with people (i loathe iPods or any other device that tries to tell me what I can and can't do with my 1's and 0's, so I go with the non DRMed hardware), but I also have a huge collection of records in various states of repair from record stores, for DJing. There's something hilarious with mixing an address the pope made to the UN in the 60s with "baby got back", ya know? hah.

jens said...

> but I will
> chasing the needle.
> In life as well as music.

I'm not sure a pharmacist who wants to keep his license really ought to be admitting this in public :-)

Anonymous said...

I used to feel the same way about using ether for anesthesia. Really an art form to get it to work according to plan, but when it did...

You're right, techno blows.

Heather said...

I know that sound/feeling of which you speak. A rare happening indeed.

The Ole' Apothecary said...

I prefer Edison wax shylinders. Now, let me shtop and replace my teef.

"Mary had a little lamb..."

The Ole' Apothecary said...

Just one more thought---we used to try to dance to vinyl on a wooden floor, and tried, and failed, to avoid making the record skip badly.

And, for anyone who has heard the expression, "repeating like a broken record," this is where it comes from!

DrugMonkey, Master of Pharmacy said...


I believe your story about dancing and the skipping record.

I also know you've never listened to a vinyl record in your life.

Just like you didn't read a word I typed here.

Tena said...

That was a beautiful post....

Ashley said...

when I was a baby, we were unfortunately evicted from our house (daddy was a ho) and my mother lost her entire vinyl collection. My heart aches when I think about it.

I think this may be my favorite blog yet. Brilliantly written.