Yes is my favorite band of all time. This, of course, is evidenced by the fact that they were my most listened to band on Last.fm with almost double the number of plays as my next most listened to band. On a whim, I picked up a couple of their albums on vinyl, Fragile and Close to the Edge. I had no way of listening to them, and owning a record was essentially a novelty item that I could display. At the time, I wouldn’t dare listen to an entire album on vinyl even if I had a record player because that listening time wouldn’t get “scrobbled” to Last.fm.
Remember: I had a problem.
But when the Dear Hunter (my second most-listened-to band on Last.fm) announced that they were releasing an ambitious series of color-themed EPs exclusively on vinyl, I was forced to become a collector. My grandmother graciously gave me one of her record players (one of those garbage Crosley reproductions), and I started listening to records for the sake of enjoying some music that I couldn’t get on any other format. Though I didn’t immediately stop using Last.fm, this was the first serious blow against my scrobbling addiction.
Over the years, collecting and listening to vinyl records has grown from a novelty into a major part of my listening experience. By it’s very nature, listening to records is intentional. I have to find what I want to listen to in my painstakingly alphabetized collection, carefully handle the vinyl record, and flip the darn thing over half-way through the album. But this “inconvenience” has reminded me of the beauty of listening to music. It has forced me to slow down and listen.
It’s become almost equally enjoyable to hunt for records. There are a handful of record stores that I will visit—probably more often than I should—to look through the new and used albums. Again, the process is very intentional. If I want to buy an album, I have to find it first, and that isn’t always easy. In fact, there’s a particular Yes album that only got a very limited vinyl release outside of the US, and I may never get my hands on a copy.
Now, my growing record collection does just as good a job of reflecting my eclectic tastes in music as my Last.fm profile ever did. In fact, my most recent purchase at the time of this post include a couple of somewhat rare live bootlegs. I didn’t even know that they existed until I found them, and I was pretty excited to add them to the shelf.
Meanwhile, as I finish writing this blog post, I’ve also permanently deleted my Last.fm account. Go ahead and check last.fm/user/AdamMcDorman to see a whole lot of nothing (assuming that the other Adam McDorman hasn’t already claimed the account). It’s gone for good, deleted into oblivion. To be quite honest, I felt no hesitation about putting an end to the counting. I no longer feel bound to a single medium, which means that I can listen to music whenever and however I want. It is truly a wonderful thing.
Music is alive again. Vinyl saved it.