I was raised on great music. Music we listened to in our “den” – usually on vinyl or cassette (once my older brother became a teenager and got a “Boom Box”) but still mostly on Vinyl. My parent’s collection of Jazz and 70’s rock and Folk was a university course in music appreciation.
I was actually recently the lucky recipient of the entire collection, which my Mother has been looking to get rid of for years so she could redecorate her spare bedroom.
My wife also has a sizable record collection that includes everything from Disco Mickey Mouse to Prince to the entire musical score of Oklahoma.
We actually built out a room in our home to serve as both her teaching studio (she is a voice and singing instructor) as well as our “listening room”. Since we finished the renovations last summer we have spent countless hours gathered around the turntable, whether with guests or simply alone with one another on an impromptu “date night”. We comb through the stacks of cardboard sleeves, reminisce about the first times we’d heard those records and the moments in our lives they reminded us of and get our ridiculous “groove” on.
These are some of the best times I’ve had in years. Why? Because I had no idea where my iPhone was and didn’t care. Because I’ve learned so much about the lives of my friends and loved ones. Because i was unequivocally present in every moment, enjoying music as the energy that brings us all together.
In a recent post on my “business” website, my partner and I co-authored a blog about The Return of Vinyl: A Movement in Music and Presence. In it, we marvel at the return vinyl and listening to records as a cultural trend gaining steady momentum. We link it to the idea that, as a first-world culture where we spend an increasing amount of our time and attention on things happening in the digital world, we have lost the art of making human connections “here on earth.” We literally crave a respite from technology in favor of being present and enjoying simple pleasures – like listening to music, or having a conversation, or appreciating art just because it is there and evokes an emotion.
Records bring us back to a time before the digital when, if you wanted to enjoy music, you went to your local record store and poured through the stacks, had conversations and made connections with the other humans around you, however different, based on your shared love of music.
The act of listening to a record is one that forces us to be present. It’s good medicine for a world that can seem sometimes detached and bitter. Sharing the music means sharing the love – and sitting down to listen to some vinyl for a while means you allow yourself to let life revolve around the music.