Editor’s Letter: My Vinyl Obsession
By Collin Kelley
Last month, I took a weekend trip to New York City ostensibly to visit friends, but I must admit shopping for vinyl records took up an inordinate amount of my time. Yes, folks, I am one of those nerdy white guys.
I clearly remember when I fell in love with music and the satisfying crackle and pop as the needle dropped on a vinyl record. My parents bought me one of those plastic Fisher-Price record players when I was a toddler and upgraded it when it was five or six to a real record player. By the late 1970s, we had a hi-fi system with turntable, eight-track player and gigantic speakers in the family room. My dad listened to country and polka (don’t ask!), mom listened to Elvis and Bruce Springsteen and I became obsessed with Fleetwood Mac. “Rumors” was my first serious, adult album. I was 10.
I continued to collect records in the 1980s and early 90s (especially Kate Bush), but as CDs took over the market and vinyl almost disappeared, I stored my beloved collection of 100 or so records in a crate in the back of my closet. They moved with me from apartment to apartment because I never could give them up, even when I didn’t own a turntable.
A few years ago, I bought one of those suitcase-style Crosley turntables. It was retro cute and low-fi to the point of being laughable, but my old Joni Mitchell albums sounded pretty good on it. I knew it was time to upgrade when I bought David Bowie’s final album, “Blackstar,” and it sounded ridiculous on the Crosley.
So, as a Christmas present to myself last year, I invested in a real turntable and speaker set-up. I’m not ashamed to admit that I got a bit teary-eyed listening to how pristine Bowie sounded on “Lazarus,” while the thundering drums of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” were, once again, a revelation. I don’t care what people say: vinyl does sound better than any tape, CD or streaming site. You’ll never be able to argue me out of it. My ears know better.
So, between visiting friends, I haunted Manhattan’s record stores and I plan to make another pilgrimage to Amoeba Records in Los Angeles when I visit this summer. In the meantime, you might find me digging through the crates at Criminal Records or Wax ‘n Facts in Little Five Points or over at Wuxtry, Decatur CD or Book Nook in Decatur. And if you have a clean copy of Sade’s debut album “Diamond Life” you’re willing to part with, get in touch.