Why I Love Collecting Records

Some of my favorite memories from my childhood are sitting in the backseat of my mom’s car, excitedly tearing off the plastic casing of a new CD. I remember finally convincing my mom to buy me the Britney Spears Blackout album and eagerly inspecting the album artwork and the little booklet of the songs and their lyrics. I read every inch of it, even the credits and thank yous. I was fascinated by all the work that went into the chunk of plastic that was now in my hands. There was always something magical to me about being able to hold and touch the music that you love so much. Clandestinely watching the Womanizer music video on YouTube because my mom said it wasn’t age appropriate, was just not the same as having something tangible to represent the music I loved. As music became more digitized, my CD collection was replaced with an iPod, and then Spotify. However, I began to miss that feeling I got when I looked through my CD collection.   

 

 

When I received my record player for Christmas with my first vinyl, I was awestruck. In high school I had started missing being able to have a physical collection of music. I thought vinyls were beautiful and fascinating, so for Christmas, my grandma bought me a Victrola 50s Retro Record Player and Patrick Stump’s Soul Punk on vinyl. At the time I was deep into my cringey emo phase, so this album had tons of meaning to me. I felt that same feeling I had felt when I was a little kid uncasing my new Britney Spears CD. I knew that from that point on that collecting records was the perfect hobby for me. 

Something great about vinyl is that it makes you stop and appreciate the music. It engages you more deeply with the music. It’s not as easy as pressing play on a Spotify playlist. You have drop the needle and flip the record. And it’s not as simple as pressing skip to get to your favorite song, but having this deeper physical engagement with music has led me to appreciate the artistry of the music so much more. When I finally saved up enough to buy Dark Side of the Moon on vinyl, I felt like I was finally able to fully appreciate what made that album so great. While I had previously been listening to the album on Spotify, I had yet to give the album my undivided attention. I would play it while doing homework or cleaning my room. When I took the record home, I sat down and just listened. While I don’t always just sit there and give my records my undivided attention, it is very rewarding when I do. I felt like I got so much more out of Dark Side of the Moon and really felt what Pink Floyd was trying to do with the album. Vinyls provide a great opportunity to disconnect and pay more attention to the music you’re listening to. Some of my most relaxing evenings have been putting on a Fleetwood Mac record and reading a book. It serves as a great reminder that there are things in life beyond scrolling through your Instagram feed; I think we all could use this reminder sometimes.   

 

If you have ever spent some time browsing the vinyl section at Urban Outfitters or Barnes and Noble, you might be thinking that starting a record collection would cost a fortune. And you’d be right if that's where you buy your records. If you are thinking about starting a record collection, do not buy new records if you can avoid it. I found Magical Mystery Tour for $2 at the Spin Shack in Baraboo. While it looks well loved from the outside, the record itself is in perfect condition and it came with a 25 page comic book. Barnes and Noble sells it for $25. My most played record happens to be The Best of the Beach Boys which I also bought for $2 at MadCity Music (not Badlands which I spent $30 on, though it is beautiful on vinyl). While you might be more hard pressed to find more current music used on vinyl, it’s not impossible. Furthermore, buying used also provides the opportunity to discover new music at a low cost. When I purchased Bella Donna I only knew two songs off the album, but now it’s one of my favorite records.   

If you love music, you should think about starting a record collection. I love being able to have something physical and tangible to represent the music I love. It’s a great way to disconnect from the digital world and appreciate music, and it doesn't have to be expensive. However, this is by no means an attack on digital music. Without it, I would have never discovered many of the artists I now love. As I am writing this, I’m not listening to a record, I’m listening to Frank Ocean on the Spotify premium account I pay for each month. The point is that a record collection can be a great way to connect with music in addition to your digital music collection.