• March 28, 2020
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Record players come in all shapes and sizes, but they share one thing: they exist to create music. (Photo Courtesy of Ellie Thompson)

Music fills our generation: We have instant access to millions of songs, albums, and artists. From rap to country, our phones hold more lyrics and melodies than ever before. There is no shortage of songs to listen to. 

You can access so much for no cost. If that’s the case, the rise of vinyl in this younger generation seems… illogical.

What about vinyl draws people to it? You have to pay individually for each album with limited song choices. Also, it is more work to listen to the same music you could on your phone. And yet, teenagers and young adults are returning to the outdated vinyl record of the past decade. 

Often, we take music for granted. Listening to it is so easy, and often we forget the time that went into creating it. In more modern times, simple music consisting of just an instrument and a voice has become synthesized. The pieces of a song are taped separately, changed by technology, then combined. It can sound fake, like the artists are trying to hard. This floods our ears, and we forget about the classics.

Because of a desire for classic music, I recently found myself drawn into the vinyl world. For my sixteenth birthday, the main item I asked for was a Crosley black record player. I will admit, right now I only own one album on vinyl, so I’m still new. But I have borrowed many from other people which has allowed me to listen to artists I wouldn’t have found otherwise. The same way 

I wanted to fall back into simpler times. For me, listening to music where it seemed pure was a way to do this. The scratchy sound of vinyl reminds me to appreciate the work that went into it. I value the production of the music more when I see the record spinning.

The science of it is still lost on me. I’m baffled by how a single needle running over a large black disc can perfectly create to sound we hear in the songs on our phones. The way the vibrations from the vinyl project distinct pieces of the song — various instruments along with vocals — continues to confuse me, but I’m fascinated by it. And the scratchy sound that can happen on vinyl when the needle skips over a scuff — I would argue that it gives the song character.

And I’m not the only one. Vinyl is making a return. There are a small handful of students, even here at Leesville, who have fallen in love with the classic sound of vinyl. Overall, it is an experience as well as a song. This might be one of the biggest arguments. I won’t remember when I first found an album in the archives of my phone — those purchases will only blur together with every other time. But when I buy or receive a record, that memory will stick in my mind with distinct people and places because I can hold it in my hand and watch it play. 

What impact will the music of our generation leave on our children? Will they even remember what songs we loved? Passing down physical albums insures that they will. 

One of the most valuable items I own is a necklace passed down from my grandmother. I don’t know the monetary value but knowing the memories attached to it gives it significance. Vinyl is the same way — buying used albums brings new memories. I walked into a record store in downtown Asheville recently, the first I have been to. It immediately overwhelmed me, and looking back, the only thing I would change is my approach. Amidst hundreds of albums and artists, most of whom I didn’t know of, it was easy to feel lost. I want to create memories when I buy records, and I need to start slow. The entire experience I have with vinyl forces me to slow down, a much needed break from the busyness of life. 

And when you listen to music on your phone, you never separate yourself from the constant bombardment of information. Every time it buzzes, new choices are attacking you. With vinyl, the only choice is what to play first. It can truly help you relax, focusing on one thing at a time.

In few words, vinyl brings joy. I love the simplicity of it and the vintage feel behind it. I would definitely recommend it to all. To the millenial seeking a vintage look, the family searching for a different way to listen to music, and the high school student looking for the old times. Vinyl may just be another way to hear the same songs, but it is more than that — it’s an experience you can remember.

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