My musical evolution has grown as much as I have and so has the form of media — from cassette tapes, to CD’s, to mp3’s….to…vinyl? I grew up on music and while most of the music I was force fed as a child, on long car rides and on cleaning days, wasn’t music I particularly enjoyed, it was music. I had always been drawn to the background noise escaping the speakers. I feared silence.
My mother was a country fan, but my father listened to death metal. I was raised on bipolar genres and my preferences today reflect as much. My first cassette was purchased by my father in Mexico. It was Mariah Carey. While I never fell in love with Mariah, I was, however, marveled by the idea of having music at my palms, whenever I wanted. Like most kids growing up in the early 90’s, I received my first Sony Walkman and with it I was given blank cassettes. The radio was my newfound best friend. I made makeshift mix tapes, composed entirely of popular music. From the Goo Goo Dolls to Destiny’s Child to Green Day, I wanted it all. I stopped being social and was rarely spotted without headphones attached to my head. I used and reused those original tapes creating better mixes every day.
And then…middle school happened and so did compact discs. With CD’s came a bigger selection, more of an opinion, and I was finally allowed to watch MTV’s Total Request Live. I wore band tee’s like it was my job. I had lunch boxes, patches, purses, stickers, folders, whatever I could get my hands on. I loved music and everyone had to know. I graduated from cassettes to CD’s, but also from pop radio to rock television.
Middle school came and went as did the allure of CD’s. High school showed up with MP3’s and music pirating. MP3’s were all the rage. You mean I can download music from my computer, where I spend all my time anyway, for free? Which is great because I’m only fourteen and don’t have a job and oh, wait, I can get music before it’s released? WHAT? I was enthralled, hypnotized, captivated, it didn’t get better than this, did it?
I did not purchase an mp3 player until graduation, but I bought blank discs by the 100’s. I made everyone I knew mixes full of music I knew they’d hate, but hey, IT WAS FREE MUSIC. I never once thought downloading music was wrong and so, when I heard that it was illegal, I simply downloaded more. Record labels and prosecutors be damned. Once I had an iPod, I gave up CD’s and had 20 gigs of music with me at all times. I thought, how in the world, can this get any better?
College came and I made it through the first year being entirely content and happy with my rapidly growing digital collection, but with digital I had nothing tangible. Just something filling the empty space of my hard drive. No longer did I count the days until release dates, rushing to the mailbox every day until I received that brown bubble wrapped package. I no longer had to struggle with the sticker on the top of a CD. Digital was easier and free, but I missed all of the anticipation, the actions, the smells, the shine.
This is how I fell in love with vinyl. Vinyl filled the void that mp3’s never could. I felt as if I had finally found the perfect balance in the musical world. But solace in something so old and so dated? I was skeptical. I felt as if I was moving backwards instead of forward, but unbeknownst to me, records were just as popular, if not more popular. I began collecting records before I received a record player. Because, hey, we all have to start somewhere.
Luckily, the city I live in has an independent record shop and the bands I listen to are the bands that put out records. One of the many things I enjoyed about vinyl was that a lot of records came with a link to a legally downloadable file. My world was simultaneously revolutionized and de-revolutionized. Once again I was reunited with the packaging, the anticipation, the entire process of having tangible music at my finger tips.
Vinyl looks good, smells wonderful, sounds better than any mp3 ever could, and there’s just something about listening to vinyl that puts a smile on my face and eases the tension of my busy life. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with supporting the music you love.
Who know’s where we’ll be in ten more years and I may be traveling backwards in time, but as long as there’s music in any form in the background, I can’t say I mind.