2017-10-25 / Here's the Scoop

Give it a listen

In case you haven’t heard, “Vinyl is making a comeback.” That’s good news for musicians and listeners who actually care about the way recordings sound.

Recent decades have seen a decline in the quality of music we listen to — and I’m not just referring to Justin Bieber. First it was compact discs and then digital downloads that really resulted in trade-offs in the way we hear what artists have produced. I’m no audiophile, but when I listen to music (which is pretty much constantly), it’s nice to able to hear a decent quality recording.

I remember in the olden times, I’d invest quite a chunk of cash in stereo systems in my cars. That was before I owned a house, of course. Nowadays, I’m pretty much stuck with whatever type of stereo comes with my car. Despite the enthusiastic language of the copywriters who churn out vehicle descriptions, these stereos are generally pretty lousy. On the other hand, the displays showing what’s playing have continually gotten better!

I’ve recently been awarded a few free months of XM satellite radio as part of a promotion. I used to subscribe to this music service, but I won’t be signing up once the trial period expires. When I tried to get out my last contract with the company, it was harder than passing up an order of fries at Five Guys.

Sorry, I don’t that. Or that. Or that...

As I count down the days until the volume gets turned off on my free radio, I’ve discovered there are very few of the countless station offerings that I’d ever want to play. I have heard a few interesting songs, but have been shocked at how many of the same artists have been played repeatedly during my short daily commute.

Hearing some tunes that I hadn’t enjoyed in years got me thinking about my vast collection of neglected music. When I got home the other day, I browsed through shelves of CDs; it was a bit like time traveling. I remembered playing some of these discs nearly non-stop for months at a time. I also recalled the excitement of going to the post office and having a package arrive containing CDs.

With a quick review of my CDs, I automatically eliminated some of them under the category of “What was I thinking?” Still, there were plenty of others that have simply been forgotten or needed a rest from overexposure to my ears.

Tuned out

In the age of “streaming music services,” it’s become a bit too easy to tune in and let the programmers choose my music, even though I do have “thumbs up or down” control on my iPad. Still, since I’ve started dusting off some of my music collection, it’s been refreshing to give a listen to some of the tunes that provided so much enjoyment over the years.

For some reason, I’ve found that it’s too easy to forget about downloaded “albums.” Maybe that’s because there’s no excitement of opening that package at the post office containing CDs from Amazon. Of course, that experience can’t compete with the thrill of spending hours pawing amongst full-size albums at an old-fashioned record store. With real records.

With the return of vinyl, record stores are once again becoming relevant. Sure, you can order vinyl through the mail, but it’s not quite the same as flipping through the album-filled bins. This is all very exciting. It would be even better if I could dig out my old turntable from the basement — it will be like I never “skipped” a beat.
— Brian Sweeney

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