I’m one of those people that’ll take into consideration my surroundings, mood, and the parallel situations involved when absorbing media. This has perhaps led me to attributing more value on ritual than I should. For example, I’ll enjoy a movie more than I might have normally if it’s attached to a particularly enjoyable experience or memory. We all do this to some extent, I’m just oddly aware of it in the moment.
Having spent nearly the last decade consuming entertainment more and more digitally, not to mention a la carte, I forgot just how susceptible I am to honoring physical media. Purchasing my first record late last year became a very quick trip into collecting again. It’s likely an addiction, but I like to think of it as holding a piece of creativity. Honoring an intellectual property that can’t be picked up or put down in many other ways. You can’t literally hold a tune, but you can own a recording of it.
That’s the romanticized aspect of it, but there’s also a huge chunk of selfish involved. Building a collection of anything can be as wonderfully fun as curating a photo album of favorite memories or as painfully depressing as, say, hoarding Star Wars Episode 1 soda cans in anticipation for a movie that has no hope of meeting expectations. It’s a compulsion that can get out of hand if not kept in check.
Buying vinyl has lead to a positive reassessment of my relationship with music. When you can’t just skip songs, you find yourself taking in entire albums as they were meant to be heard, which is something I haven’t done in a long time. Listening to a record as one full piece and in the order intended is a different animal than buying a single on iTunes. It’s forced me to slow down and make time for music.
Perusing the spines of my records and deciding what to play is a decision that’s directly related to what I have planned for the duration of that specific side A and/or B. I’m reminded of a concert, emotion, mindset, friend, etc, all related to certain bits of music, which helps me make the selection. If I’m writing, I want to play something that isn’t distracting, but comfortable. I come across my pressing of Weezer’s blue album and am immediately reminded of simpler, more binary times. It’s music that can inspire as well as simply fill the background of a productive thought. If I’m cleaning, I want to choose something up beat or noisy. Maybe I brush across an album that reminds me of a concert where I couldn’t stop moving my feet. Well, that’s the right soundtrack for straightening up.
This little process works the same way with picking a movie to watch or book to read from my shelf. It’s much more visceral than scrolling my iTunes or clicking through my Netflix selections. I’m a social and tactile creature who often wants to apply complimentary senses to my entrainment experiences. The feel of a page, the smell of popcorn, and the weight of 180g on a platter - they’re all parts of the experience and don’t seem to be relished as often in our wi-fi worlds. That’s not an admonishment of technology, I fucking love the cloud. I just don’t want to give up all the lo-fi pleasures of our increasingly high tech culture.
Perhaps there’s something to all of this… or perhaps I’m just trying to reconcile spending $10 more than I should’ve on Pinkerton.
Nah, you’re right. That album is always worth it.