Let’s Get Physical
For me, it’s not enough to simply listen to music. I must possess it. In multiple color and pressing variants, states of remastering and deluxe-ing. I want to shop for it, hold it, open it, study it, place the needle upon it and enjoy the rock n’ roll goodness and then when the ride is over we find it’s home on a shelf amongst it’s fellow record brethren. Then…I want to do it all over again.
In this, the digital age, there is quite a divide in the physical vs. digital camps. Many have a very definite opinion on the matter and many more simply don’t care. For this writer though, there is no substitute for the physical. Partially because it’s how I learned to listen to and collect music from an early age but mostly it stems from an enjoyment for the art of cataloging and from the empty feeling I get from “owning” a file of a song/album. How can one possess a file? Zeroes and ones!?!?! Even more importantly, there is the matter of fidelity. Vinyl spinning through even the most standard speakers and stereo system will make mincemeat of an MP3. There is also something to be said for being physically involved in the process, hands-on. I’m happy to get up and flip the record. It's just that sort of engagement that heightens the experience for me.
Then there’s the communal event of going to your favorite local record shop and seeking out your next musical adventures. Frankly, the immediacy of downloading often feels too easy and less than satisfying. I love the hunt for music. “What will I find today?”. Don’t get me wrong, I was an early adopter of the iPod and think it’s a great companion to one’s collection. It allows me to take literally thousands of songs from my collection on the road with me but I see it as just that, a tool for portability and one that has its limitations, not to mention a lack of romantic interaction with said tunes.
Likely you have an opinion on this matter and lean heavily one way or the other. There tends not to be a lot of middle ground in this argument. The tide, however, continues to turn and not only are physical music sales on an incline (specifically, vinyl sales) but statistics show that young people are beginning to consume physical music again, at an astounding rate. They want their copy of London Calling as a double album gatefold thing of beauty, and who can blame them?! Each generation is destined to rebel against that which was favored by the previous one. It’s the natural order.
If the next generation of music lovers, the ones that will be running the show in the very near future, are record buyers, I think we’re going to be just fine!