Last weekend, hundreds of vinyl enthusiasts and collectors converged at the Rodgers & Hammerstein record sale at Lincoln Plaza, where the New York Public Library charged $1 for each of its 22,000 LPs. The last time the NYPL did something like this was nearly 30 years ago, when everyone was going apeshit over a new media called the “CD.” This Compact Disc encoded audio in a series of numbers and letters that a laser could read and reproduce as sound at your house or in your car. It was something they were calling “digital audio.”
At the risk of sounding like an anachronistic, pretentious Luddite, I have a love/hate relationship with CDs and MP3s. Despite their integral role in my introduction to music loving and appreciation, they pale in comparison to the vinyl record’s personability. I stress “person” because the social interaction is 50% of an LP’s worth (that is, if you’re not a collector). The act of going to the store, rifling through the stacks, and—gasp—actually having a conversation with a fellow shopper or store clerk is the real magic of spending a little extra on a century-old technology.
So, again, at the risk of sound like a luddite and a sentimentalist, it was a glorious sight to see so many vinyl nerds at the NYPL music library on a disgustingly humid August day. The MP3 is even starting to go out of fashion, as far as downloading albums and letting them take up space on your hard drive. We’ve got Spotify now, which is two steps away from being the Skynet of recorded arts. So: thank god for the NYPL, and thank god for vinyl nerds everywhere.
Follow Ryan Chang on twitter @avantbored.