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It seems that many things from my youth that I thought were long gone are now making a comeback, and I couldn’t be happier.
When I was entering my teen years my parents gave me a choice for my birthday gift. I could get a bike or a record player. I chose the record player and, as a result, spent many happy hours listening to the precious few albums that I could afford to purchase. Whenever the local café was replacing its playlist in the jukebox, we teenagers had the opportunity to purchase the old 45’s at discount prices.
That was many years ago and since that time I (along with many others) have run the course of moving from records to 8-tracks to cassettes to CD’s and most recently to downloaded music on my iPhone and iPad. Technology always seemed to come up with improvements, or so we were led to believe.
But suddenly vinyl records are big again and back in vogue with more and more people purchasing turntables or what was more commonly referred to as record players in my day. It has been several decades since entertainment gurus deemed the turntable to be dead in the water and a dinosaur among newer and better technologies. In 1991 The Economist ran a story entitled “End of Track”, but those forecasters were wrong. Since 2006 sales of vinyl have been steadily increasing.
My husband and I are part of this latest trend as we just recently purchased an entertainment unit which has a turntable. Although the system also plays cassettes and CD’s, we were most interested in using it to play my old records (which thankfully I did not dispose of in one of many garage sales over the years). But it’s not just baby boomers who are returning to vinyl, it seems that it is the younger generation who are truly driving this revival.
So what’s behind this comeback in an age where music can be downloaded instantly, at little or no cost and in formats that are much more convenient? Some claim it’s akin to being at a live concert, but James Stables says the return “shows something’s lacking in digital music”. And Tim Ingham, editor of Music Week, maintains that people “demand something packed with tactile reward”. In other words, the look and feel of vinyl provides something that digital music cannot.
For me, vinyl bears resemblance to an old-fashioned book. Yes, I can download a book onto my iPad (and I often do so when I am travelling), but nothing can replace the feel of a paperback or hardcover in my hands. And likewise, nothing is as satisfying as slipping that vinyl out of its sleeve, setting the needle carefully in the groove (now you young folks know where the term groovy came from) and settling back to let the music envelope me.
Vinyl is back and so is a part of my youth!