Have you been inside a record store? Heard the chime of bells overhead as a door swings shut behind you, blocking out the sticky humidity of a summer day and transporting you into a world unlike any other?
Have you ever been surrounded by vinyl records? Boxes and crates occupying the area of the floor, with bookcases tracing the walls? An indie track playing faintly over speakers as dust dances in the light and a sort of musty smell hangs in the air.
Have you ever wanted to?
No better reason to visit one than Record Store Day, taking place Saturday, April 21. The day was conceived in 2007 as a way to recognize and celebrate the unique culture that is buying vinyl and has since grown to draw record enthusiasts from nearly every continent into their local stores.
The day uses special releases and promotions along with performances, meet and greets, cookouts, parades and more to encourage people of all ages to integrate into this unique community of record buying fanatics.
Within the past couple years there’s been a revival of the music pleasures of the past with the sale of vinyl records hitting a 25-year high. Driven by an indie-alternative youth searching for a way to feel like it’s 1977 again, what’s old is becoming new again.
This 21st century boom in record sales is almost ironic given the amount of music streaming platforms that exist nowadays. There’s no denying vinyl records are generally pricey and of a relatively poorer listening quality than what you download off iTunes or Spotify, so what exactly is the big draw?
If you ask me, one of the “alternative youth” who purchases vinyl fairly regularly, the draw to having records is that there’s simply nothing quite like listening to it.
It’s a funny thing, when you’re raised on digital music, you grow used to the album art is meger little pixelated image existing only on your phone or iPod. You get used to looking up song lyrics on sketchy websites or YouTube videos in order to sing along to your favorite songs.
But, with records it’s completely different.
The album art becomes tangible, a real thing you can hold and admire in your hands, even frame it on your wall if you’d like. Lyrics come in liner notes, picked straight from the artists brain that you can follow along with as you get lost in the music.
Even the songs, which used to exist only as a binary series of bits are transformed into grooves and waves carved into a vinyl disc you can trace with your finger tips.
When you listen to vinyl, you’re not just listening, you’re experiencing.
The same applies to shopping at a record store. Rather than simply looking up the title of a song or album, you get to sift through piles of records, maybe even finding something that you never intended to on the way. Something completely out of the box and maybe even out of this decade.
This Record Store Day I encourage you to go out to your local store, not only in support of these small businesses, but for a taste of the culture that has captivated generation after generation. You may even find yourself lost in a new experience, too.