Tis the season of ringing cash register bells and getting snowed. What is a would-be responsible consumer to do when it seems like everything you want to purchase is going to fund terrorists, polluters, or corporations that screw artists and homogenize the music? It all makes you want to get as shitfaced as a shopping mall Santa six hours after being shitcanned for diddling an elf.
Well my friends, I say give the gift of vinyl. The LP is back in a big way baby, and it only seems fitting. Modern music has de-evolved so, it makes sense that we have to go back to move forward. Domesdayers who warned about a nuclear Winter from World War III liked to say that World War 4 would be fought with sticks and stones. So why not get our music from scratching a needle across a piece of wax?
Vinyl is a win win for the consumer AND the industry. It cannot easily be copied like digital downloads, and it gives the consumer a physical item to purchase and have. Album art again can be realized, and hypothetically, the artist can be compensated by additional sales. The win for the consumer is vinyl is free of things like digital rights encryption to make sure you don’t duplicate it too many times and wind up on Santa’s naughty list.
In lieu of vinyl, you should always make sure if you buy music digitally that it is in the MP3 format, not M4A, MP4, or others that can be carrying encryption software. That is why I always buy my digital music from Amazon who gives you clean MP3’s, though admittedly I turn right around and dump it into iTunes, which I’ve discovered sometimes goes back and re-formats the music to their MP4 format. What do your really think iTunes is doing when they are “updating you to the latest version”? If you want to read more about some of the nasty things digital music makers have done with digital downloads, click here (Sony), and here (iTunes). That’s right, each download comes with a little present to make sure you don’t re-gift the music like Aunt Frannie’s high fructose fruitcake.
And with vinyl, there’s no record (no pun intended) of how many times you’ve listened to the songs to be accumulated in some Big Brother database. It can’t be traced. Vinyl is yours, and you can do whatever the hell you want with it. And while the music being churned out by Nashville and the rest of the music industry is not worth the plastic it is printed on because it is void of creativity and then digitally compressed as all get out, vinyl has an amazing clarity and a connection with the original performance that outsurpasses any worries of convenience, even with the snap crackle pop.
Oh the satisfaction of finding a cool record at a thrift store for a buck, or hearing the needle finding the groove to lead it to the first song of a spanking new album. It’s like, well, opening a new present on Christmas day. What a buzkill it is when you open a CD for the first time, and it snaps in half as you try to remove it from the death grip of the center flanges. Bah Humbug.
What, too many Xmas references? Eh, kiss my mistletoe.
Apparently I’m not alone in my love for vinyl. According to the LA Times:
“. . . vinyl sales will reach 2.8 million units in 2009, up from 1.9 million in 2008, a record since SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991. Rock albums account for 70% of all vinyl sold, but country vinyl is enjoying a growth spurt. Year-to-date country vinyl sales are already at 15,000 copies, compared with 5,000 for the comparable period in 2008.”
So in closing, if you’re looking for that something for that cowboy that has everything, buy them a vinyl record. Or a Snuggie. Here’s some suggestions:
- Townes van Zandt: Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas
- Hank III: Lovesick, Broke and Driftin [Vinyl LP with Bonus CD]
- Hank III: Straight to Hell [2 LP Vinyl]
- Hank Williams: The Unreleased Recordings (Vinyl LP)
- Johnny Cash American IV: The Man Comes Around
- Those Poor Bastards: Satan is Watching (vinyl lp)