Maybe because everything is so fast moving and disposable in our modern age, many people are looking to the classics for comfort. Typewriters to defy our upgrading-obsessed world. Letters to record our thoughts in ink that cannot be erased by "delete." Vintage clothes that have lasted decades, while many cheaply made clothes of today fade after a few washes.
There's something about spending an evening at home listening to vinyl records that is so inviting. Unlike with an iPod which you can take anywhere, a vinyl forces you to be in the moment. Savor it while you can. Sit, lie, or dance to the music. You can be transported back in time. In a Golden Girls episode, Dorothy asks Blanche if she's donated to charity and Blanche says, yes, she bought a copy of the We Are the World album in 1985. Who didn't? I try not to romanticize any era too much (each time has its positives and negatives), but wouldn't it be nice to be in more innocent times? Before words like "sexting" was in teens' regular dialogue? When sweethearts grabbed for each other's hands and not a gadget on a date? No matter how fast and convenient a download can be, it cannot compete with flipping through the liner notes on a record and admiring the art.
Today, April 16, is National Record Store Day. I stopped in at my favorite shop, Music Merchant in Westwood, New Jersey, which I've been patronizing since I was a teenager. Do you patronize any record shops, or have in the past and miss doing so? As of late, I've be browsing thrift shops as well for steals on records.
These timeless albums, Carpenters and The Sound of Music, were part of two crates of records found disposed of by the curbside many months ago. Countless gems were in the collection, from the Gigi soundtrack to Elvis Presley.
Aren't we forgetting about and throwing away so much that is great about American culture? When it was less about gimmicks and shock value (ahem, Lady GaGa). When it was just about the music, and an entire album was worth listening to, not just a download? When we didn't hear "tweets" from our favorite singers except their actual singing, and didn't take out our music to drown out other sounds of technology (like people's distracting cell phone conversations)?
I also love the community feel of record shops, book stores, the library and the like, with their more personal, human connection which we all need, over the online alternatives (Amazon, Netflix, etc.) The shop owners and librarians know me by name. That cannot be said of a computer.
The song was so right, the times they are a-changing. Change is constant. But we can tailor the times to a world we want for ourselves. I'm so glad records are part of mine.
Now, a night with Simon & Garfunkel awaits.