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Why Tom Merritt Is Listening to Vinyl RIGHT NOW - Issue #61

Tom Merritt
Tom Merritt
Hey folks,
Thursday, when I was *not* on DTNS, Roger, Sarah, Rich and Justin got in a discussion on the extended show about listening to music on vinyl. The usual points came up. It has a warm sound. It’s not better than CDs. People do it out of a sense of nostalgia. People do it to be pretentious. People like the scratchy sound. True afficanados work hard to avoid the scratchy sound. Roger even proposed that people do it for the same reason they made their own bread during the pandemic. The process of having to get up and turn a record over makes you feel invested.
I think the thing that struck me was that, because I wasn’t on the show, the point of view of an actual person who listens to vinyl records was not available.
I’m listening to long-playing record right now. It’s “An Evening with Silk Sonic.” I just bought it at Target.
While I do appreciate the warm tone of analog, that’s not why I listen to songs on vinyl. And I find having to get up and turn the record over to be a downside, not something I enjoy. I do appreciate the scratchy record sound on old records but I prefer my new records, like Silk Sonic, not to have it.
I’ll cop to a bit of nostalgia. I have records– 78s, 45s, and 33s– from when records were the way I listened to music. I did grow up with it. But I’d say that’s not the majority of the reason I listen. Because I tend not to listen to those records. When I listen to old records, they’re usually bebop stuff I picked up int he 1990s when I worked at Half Price Books in Austin.
So what is it Tom? Get to the point! Why do you listen to vinyl?
I think it looks cool.
So maybe a little of what roger suggested is right. It’s the process. Not the inconvenience of flipping. But the aesthetics of taking the record out of the sleeves, putting it on the platter, moving the tone arm over and hearing the “bump” as the needle engages. Watching the platter spin as the music begins. Seeing the light from the player play against the side of the platter. Looking at the sizeable album art and any liner notes. And even when I sit down on the ouch, seeing the turntable turn over on the other side of the room working hard to bring me my music.
You can dismiss this as aesthetics. You can rightly point out that digital music is better in almost all measurable ways.
But I like listening to music on vinyl for the same reason people put visualizers into music players. for the same reason Spotify and Apple put thought into what shows on the screen while your music plays. There’s a visual experience to listening to music, not just an audio won. And I quite enjoy the visual experience of a turntable.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, “Smokin out the Window” just started. And it’s not only an excellent song, but also the last track on side one.
Cheers,
Tom

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Tom Merritt
Tom Merritt @acedtect

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