A vinyl record is really an amazing thing. Someone came up with the idea to take the waveform of music, cut it into microscopic grooves on an lacquered aluminum disc, make a nickel silver mold of said microscopic grooves, and then stamp a hot vinyl hockey puck with it with a few thousand pounds of pressure so that ordinary folks could listen to music in their homes. However, the calculated and precise mastering and stamping process is only the beginning of a record’s life. Apart from normal wear, the average record goes through a series of violent and unpredictable process ranging from being dropped on the floor, being scratched by a friend’s overzealous manicure, or being left in a warm car in a Denny’s parking lot.
I love that you can see the songs on a vinyl record in addition to hearing them. I also love that you can hear the little imperfections and love bites on a record in addition to seeing them. Damaged portions of a CD just get skipped over, but the damaged portions on a record get played. You can literally hear that Dennys parking lot when you put on a warped record. You can hear those inconveniently long fingernails when the needle plays that scratch. You can call that damage, or you say that you phonograph is playing a story of music and life superimposed over the music.
I love buying used vinyl because you’re not just buying a record, you’re buying a part of someone’s life. And if you listen closely enough, you can hear their stories.