The Media Rewind
There’s a magical little record store called The End of All Music, one of the greatest gems this town has to offer. The minute I walk in, I am greeted with the aroma of old records, a smell I’ve come to appreciate in my years of collecting.
The blue walls have rare and new releases all across them. There are rows of record crates always changing, so every trip, there is a new adventure. I am greeted every time by owner David Swider.
Since the day they opened the store, Swider has been most helpful with every question I have. This time I asked about the vinyl record revival.
One day, I walked into Urban Outfitters and noticed a small collection of vinyl records. My mind was totally blown. I could not believe a “cool” and “hip” store was carrying vinyl records, something I thought were near obsolete for people my age.
As I continued to shop there, their collection grew. It grew so much, they started carrying turntables. I noticed records by modern day pop artists, and even musicians you would never think to find on vinyl.
Urban Outfitters is now known for their selection of new pop and classic remasters. Thus, my curiosity about “vinyl revival” soared.
One of my favorite questions to ask anyone my age (or around my age) that has a vinyl record collection is about how they began collecting. When I walked into The End of All Music, I knew exactly what my first question was going to be for David: How did you get started with vinyl records?
The answer to this question is something David and I have in common. It started with our parents.
“As a kid, just listening to my parent’s records,” he said. “They always had records and a turntable when I was a kid, you know. They had classic rock stuff and Beatles records, and that’s what kind of started it all.”
This was interesting, considering the first vinyl record I ever laid hands on was a Beatles record – Abby Road, to be exact.
David Swider has always been a collector. He collected baseball cards and comic books in junior high, then vinyl. He made mixed cassettes with his parents’ records and played them on his Walkman.
“I just loved the look and the feel of records,” he said. “I bought a lot of CDs too, but I bought more records than I probably should have.”
What makes vinyl more appealing than other forms of media? From a personal standpoint, there is nothing that beats the crackle sound it makes when I place the needle on the record. Vinyl is a true listening experience.
“From a sound standpoint, I think any time you have an analog source of music, it’s going to sound better than a digital,” Swider said, “and that’s just the way humans are programmed, and their ears are programmed.
“I always think an analog sound wave is going to have a warmer sound, and I think the best way to get that sound is off a vinyl record.”
You know how in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” Cameron talks about his dad’s Ferrari being his most prized possession? I have records that I feel the same way about (although, that’s a bit of a stretch comparing it to a Ferrari). Point is, records keep their value, and you can always find one on eBay for some obscure amount of money.
“It’s something that retains its value really well,” Swider said. “So, from a collector’s standpoint, it’s a perfect medium. The combination of the tangible aspect of a record and the beauty of a record, and the fact that it looks cool on a shelf, combined with the sound quality – you can’t find a better way to listen to music or own music.
“When it comes down to it, owning music in 2017 is a pretty interesting debate, and I think that vinyl is easily the best way to do that.”
So, did vinyl ever really go away? My answer is yes and no. I think people just forgot about how magical vinyl really was. We had an influx of new technology that was more appealing and convenient.
“I’m in the camp that argues that it never really went away,” Swider said. “There are more people buying it now than 10 years ago, but 10 years ago, you still had good record stores, and you still had good records coming out on vinyl.”
Swider said we’ve now “gone through that era of the first big wave of digital music,” referring to iTunes, Napster, and so on. “People have caught on to the fact that those are not finite. I think people are realizing this digital way of owning music is never going to be the same as owning records.”
And it’s not … at all. I hardly ever listen to music on my phone, unless I’m using Spotify. I never get on iTunes to even look at new releases. Furthermore, I can’t even tell you where my iPod is.
At The End of All Music, you will find a plethora of newly released music. From Katy Perry, to Kanye West, they have it all. They also have a cool event called Record Store Day that’s kind of like Christmas to me.
Record Store Day is when artists release limited numbers of albums or unique albums only on that day. A good bit of these albums are numbered, and you can bet they will sell on eBay for twice what you paid for them, or more.
Swider said Record Store Day is a huge day for record stores. “This year will be the 10th record store day,” he said, “and you could definitely go back 10 years and notice a direct correlation of vinyl becoming as popular as it is now because of Record Store Day. They did a good job kick-starting a vinyl revival.”
Many popular artists, such as Katy Perry and James Bay, release limited albums for Record Store Day. This is a fantastic way to include the younger generation.
My dad is 70 years old and remembers when the Beatles became popular. He attended one of their concerts and passed down his fondness for their music to me. The first record he bought was a 45, and it was Jailhouse Rock by Elvis.
Growing up on a farm in a small town, the closest record store to him was in Vicksburg. “I guess what really got me interested in music in high school, beyond the Elvis and Paul Anka era, was a classmate,” he said. “He brought a radio to school with him, and we would listen to his radio on the way home. He introduced me to music by The Beatles.”
My father didn’t discover his love of music until college. They always played music at his fraternity house, and his roommate had a nice collection of albums and a nice stereo system. My father thinks modern music is “latching on to the popularity of vinyl that was started from classic rock.”
Good music never goes out of style. Vinyl will never go away. I think this “vinyl revival” is here to stay. Every artist has evolved and taken inspiration from generations before them. The same is true for music formats.
When it comes down to it, people want something timeless. All the new technology loses its appeal over time. With vinyl, we are running back to the start and seeking music in its original form.