I know that people love vinyl for many reasons. Some will say it’s the warmth of the sound, some the nostalgia factor. Some prefer the larger scale to the cover art, some will even cite the smell of the vinyl, that tangible sensation of the music coming from the physical effect of needle on groove. For me though it is the simple fact of the period of time that you have to set aside to listen to an LP.
If I make the decision to listen to an LP it is selected from a collection of essential albums. Having grown up with CD, and now having access to a musical streaming service it is only when an album holds some special magic that it gets added to my collection in vinyl form. Therefore these are the choice cuts. They are albums carefully procured to outlast trends and fads: only classic albums (regardless of era) have made the cut. So when I take one of these off the shelf I know that it will be something magical.
I slide the record out of its sleeve and place it on the turntable to, in the words of Springsteen, “drop the needle and pray (turn it up)”. I make sure that I have at least the 20 minutes it takes for that side to play through to its end. There is no temptation to flick through to the next track after 30 seconds, no programming a selection to shuffle. Instead I have made the choice to sit down; give the album my undivided attention and just absorb and contemplate the music in the running order selected by the artist in the creation of their work.
In an era in which time seems to be quickening up, and where attention spans are getting shorter, my love of vinyl is determined by the fact that when I place that LP on the turntable I am committing a period of time to appreciating the art of sound at a speed of 33 1/3 revolutions a minute. It is a commitment of time. At the end of that it I will invariably be ready to flip the disc over and listen to a bit more. By choosing vinyl, a medium which almost died out totally in my teenage years, I am able to return to a slower way of doing things and escape the modern world for a short spell. The medium is the message and it’s time to listen to it slowly.