I have no problem in admitting when I’m wrong. Sure, I don’t like it when I am wrong, but I will acknowledge those situations.
One such occurrence happened a few years ago when my wife told me the paint color I had chosen for one of our bathrooms was far too bright. No, I assured her, it would be a lovely shade of light coral.
I was wrong.
The paint that came out of the can was, in fact, not muted coral. It was somewhere between blinding bubblegum and the hottest of pinks. You know the scene in “A Christmas Story” when Ralphie’s dad says the kid looks like a “pink nightmare?” That is how I refer that bathroom.
So, I can admit that I was wrong about vinyl records.
The great vinyl revival is in full swing, with the Recording Industry Association of America reporting that, in the first half of 2020, vinyl actually outsold CDs for the first time since the 1980s. But when I first started hearing my friends talking about buying records and saw the exceptional resurgence of vinyl among hipsters, I thought it was all a bit foolish.
We are in the 21st century, I thought, and you have people investing in a technology that predates antibiotics. Records are bulky and sensitive, whereas I can instantly download practically any album ever produced and have it with me everywhere I go and play it everywhere I go, I argued.
Oh, but the record lovers were quick to point out that it was all about the sound. Warm, warm, warm, I heard the word so many times to describe the sound of vinyl I was nearly convinced I could do away with my home’s furnace if I only played records and pumped the sound through the HVAC system.
I did not argue that point. Vinyls do have a richness that is lacking when the music is converted to 0s and 1s and played through a cell phone. Still, I wasn’t a convert.
However, about two years ago an old record player for sale popped up on my Facebook feed. And when I say old, I’m not sure exactly when it was built, but it has that smell that seemingly every single thing manufactured in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s gives off.
I liked the way it looked and wanted a decorative piece of furniture for the basement. That it played records was just an addendum. The seller threw in some old country records and I inherited a stack of ’70s and ’80s rock vinyl.
Mostly, those 40-and 50-year old sleeves just continued to gather dust.
But recently, I began a habit of spending my evenings, after the wife and kiddo were asleep, in my basement. So hey, why not throw the records on the turntable while I’m at it?
And thus, my conversion to vinyl began.
Records certainly don’t have the convenience of downloaded tunes, but I found myself appreciating the music more than plugging in headphones and firing up Spotify. Records provide an experience digital music just can’t match — whiffing that “grandparents’ house” smell, the physical action of taking the vinyl out of its sleeve and placing it on the turntable and yes, that “warm” sound.
And when I throw a record on, I want to listen to that specific record, and I want to specifically listen to music. It’s not just background noise playing through a phone speaker while I cook dinner.
There’s also some excitement baked into the buying process, flipping through stacks and stacks of records hoping to land on something you want to buy or finding a new artist to try out.
So, I was wrong about vinyl.
I leave you with a final note to remember. As we approach winter and freezing temps, be sure to stock up on plenty of vinyl records to keep your house warm.