When I was a kid, we had an old-fashioned record player. Even then, vinyl records were obsolete. Cassettes ruled the music industry, but would very soon be surpassed by CD’s. I remember when stores stopped selling cassette tapes. My dad remembers when cassettes replaced 8-tracks and when 8-tracks replaced vinyl records. Today, digital downloads and streaming services are taking over. I still buy CD’s. The quality is the best offered on today’s market. But I almost never listen to them. I rip them onto my computer and load the songs to my MP3 player. It’s easy and portable – I carry dozens of albums in one device that’s smaller than a deck of cards. The CD’s themselves sit on a shelf and get dusted once a month.
But, somehow, I still have a soft spot for vinyl records. I don’t really know why. Nostalgia probably. Good memories of listening to them as a little kid. But it’s something more than that. I don’t know how to describe it. A record is something tangible, a work of art that you can hold in your hands. Listening to a record is a purposeful thing, a conscious act. Choosing a record, setting the needle, and getting lost in another world. Putting an actual CD in a boombox offers a similar experience, but it’s still not quite the same. Others say I’m crazy. That digital is the only way to go. Vinyl is too expensive and cumbersome. But is convenience really the only consideration? Sometimes the experience is the point.
That old record player is long since gone. It’s no great loss – its only value was sentimental. It was never a real high-quality player. Someday I will replace it with a better one. And some first-rate speakers. Someday when I have my own permanent place. I’m already carting boxes of books around, I don’t need crates of records too. Until then, I will hold my dreams in a special place in my heart. I can see it now. The husband and kids gathered around in the evening. One reading a book, a couple playing with toys on the floor, that one coloring pictures, this one doing homework. My other half playing with the kids or helping one with homework or reading a book. I’m in the next room washing the supper dishes or maybe a couple of the kids are. Maybe I have time to do something I like – knitting or reading a book. And a record from my extensive collection playing in the background. Someday.