biographical / Non-fiction

The Digital Fountain to the Analog Mountains

For whatever reason I have a vinyl record habit. I used to have all sorts of reasons for having it, and would go on at lengths about it for the benefit of anyone who happened to be around.

For a long time I would go out and browse around record stores and buy things that I found that were cheap or interesting. I’d have records in mind, but there wasn’t very much forethought. Part of it was about discovery, and the fun of going out with your friends to check stuff out and occasionally coming back with a terrifying Bulgarian Women’s Choir album.

So that’s all well and good, and I started checking on Reckless Records’s website if want something in particular, and it tells me where it is and how much and it’s really helpful.

Then the other month I signed up for Discogs, where you can keep track of records you want, and it lets you know when one is for sale somewhere and you can buy ’em and it emails me pretty frequently to tell me that something I want can be bought, which I should probably stop it from doing, and I’m sure it would if I asked, but maybe I don’t want to ask.

So I bought a couple Nick Lowe albums and a Neil Young album, because they were cheap and interesting, although one of them ended up costing me like 13 bucks because I didn’t noticed it was being shipped from Canada. I think it was Labour of Lust, which I know I’ve seen in stores for, like, six bucks.

But then yesterday I signed up for Spotify and it’s sooo much easier.
No matter how much I clean my stylus I can’t shake a slight slur on the “s”s, especially as it approaches the center of the record. And Spotify doesn’t do that at all. And it’ll just keep going forever, I think, if I let it. And it actually tells me that Pugh Rogefeldt is “explicit,” which might explain why Swedish people will never tell me what his songs are about. (NB: I was pleased that they had any Pugh Rogefeldt at all until I discovered that Spotify was a Swedish company. Now an unplugged album and what seems to be a “best of” hardly seem adequate. Even iTunes has the Ja, Dä Ä Dä reissue. And I discovered Pugh via Pandora! Get your act together, Spotify).

It does keep playing ads though. So that sucks, because frankly there’s enough of those around all the time. I’ve been told that for ten dollars a month they’ll all go away, plus I can play music on my phone.

I’m probably never going to do that, because it would be such a bummer to ever stop paying for, and then you’d lose all your music. And ten bucks a month for the rest of my life seems expensive. At least I hope it would be.

Anyway, it’s not a replacement for a record player, but it actually makes record shopping even better, because I’ll cut down on the records I buy and immediately regret having purchased. Spotify just lacks the intangibles of the record, which is ironic considering it also lacks the tangible qualities. Perhaps when the novelty wears off I’ll actually listen to a whole album (which will almost surely not be a Hole album!). Often times I praise the qualities of the record player it’s such a nice dead end, whereas a computer is incredibly distracting. However, just like putting my phone on the iPod dock both makes the music sound good AND stops me from fiddling with my phone (as it is firmly attached to the dock and kind of busy at the moment), I can plug my computer into the living room stereo, literally set it on top of the record player, and go sit down to play with my phone.

Anyway, as much as I like to hate the Internet–and record collecting is kind of an expression of that hatred–I have to admit it makes record collecting way better, if completely unnecessary. But then it’s always been completely unnecessary.

POINTLESS ASIDE: (It’s weird that my living room stereo is both a deliberate choice on my behalf and also exactly how my parents set up living rooms. I mean, it’s literally their old stereo. Really makes you wonder about free will)


One thought on “The Digital Fountain to the Analog Mountains

  1. I thought we agreed you were going to read my essay before blogging. I’m glad you’re on Spotify though. I’m on a 1 month free trial of Spotify Premium right now, and it’s pretty tempting to cash into that forever. No ads, and it plays on my phone, so my gratification is more instant and constant than ever.

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