It's official, I'm spinnin' like a politician. That's right, I got an old turntable earlier this week! I've been rock and rolling these last few days.
It was strangely fun to go to the music store and crouch down to look through the boxes of records under the cd tables. I am now the proud owner of a start to a small record collection. I can truthfully say that I now have more Simon and Garfunkel records than anyone my age should know even know about (and I even know the words to most of their songs). I first heard about them from my mom, who said that one of the nuns played S&G and had then analyze songs like poetry. (She talks about other musicians, too.) I also bought some Beatles and other stuff.
Up until the past few days, the only place I had ever seen or heard a record being played was in the classroom of my grade school's music teacher, but that wasn't real music. We children could never figure out how she always knew exactly where to put the needle to play a certain song. My parents had cassette tapes. That's what I think of when I think of the 80's, my birth decade: cassette tapes, Reagan, bad taste in fashion and pop culture, the Berlin Wall, and gray generic offices.
The sound from vinyl record albums is definitely on par with cd's (and there's something hypnotic about watching the label in the center spin). To me music from a record sounds fuller and deeper than from a cd or computer. Ignoring the periodic pops from the occasional scratch, the infrequent random crackles give it some character. Teasing sound from a record is simple compared to what's involved with computer files.
It's been probably two decades since the decline of the record, at least. It doesn't help that cd's have three advantages over records: size, crackles, static, and no flipping. Also, the music companies got everyone to rebuy their favorite music on cds.
Records aren't dead; new music is still released on vinyl albums. At least half of the new albums in the store had stickers saying that they contain a code allowing the purchaser to go online and download the mp3's. Those albums are still competitive since they go for about $20 when a new cd is around $14-15 anyway.
Cd's are probably it as far as a physical medium for music. Perhaps they'll eventually be smaller, only a few inches big with better technology, but I don't think they'd ever sell music on microchips. If anything music would mostly move to downloading files on itunes and others, but I'd never buy files. I always want a hard copy when something involves money.
In the meantime, I'll start hoping for a record renaissance.
Bonus concerning the picture I took of a record playing (click it for a bigger image): Identify the band and album for a touchdown and the kick (one should lead to the other), and/or try for a field goal and name the record company.