This I Believe: I Believe In Vinyl Records

Jun 28, 2012

Essayist Matthew D'Ippolito.

I place the wide, flat disc on the turntable, close the dusty lid and press “start.” The guitar slowly fades in, followed by a loud bell. Finally, the drums break into a groove. Then, as Brad Delp of the band Boston starts to sing, I close my eyes and slip away.

I believe in vinyl records.

I believe in the soft, warm crackles and pops before every song. I believe in paging through the album artwork while the music plays. But, most of all, I believe in the happiness those spinning discs bring to my family.

When Johnny Cash’s booming baritone sings “Orange Blossom Special” on vinyl, my grandmother closes her eyes and bounces her head from side to side, in time with the music. Herb Alpert’s “Tijuana Brass” blares out of the record player and my grandfather tells a story from his youth. Listening to records is a communal experience in my family.

I first discovered records through my father, whose old vinyl collection I found one year in the garage.

“I think I still have my old turntable and speakers, too,” Dad said.

He climbed the attic steps and I heard boxes sliding around. Then, he called me over. I climbed halfway up the steps to receive the boxes, carying them back down one by one. As I descended with the last piece, the receiver, a step broke under my foot. I fell flat on my back, catching the box just before it hit the ground.

“It’s okay!” I yelled, “I caught it!”

That was the beginning of my love affair with vinyl.

When I’m home alone, I lie on the sofa and stare at the ceiling while Miles Davis paints “Flamenco Sketches” before my eyes. When I’m feeling down, “99 Luftballoons” comes through the record player and pulls me up. When I’m full of energy, I belt out the songs of the “Thriller” album into my makeshift microphone – a hairbrush.

I’m even started to buy new music on vinyl to kepp that great, old, full sound. It’s a ritual. I rush home with a new record, pull it out of the sleeve, and gently place it on the turntable. As the music fills the room, I page through the album artwork or examine the album cover and read the liner notes. The experience is as intimate as the small, local record stores that sell vinyl. The vintage sound complements both old classics and new releases.

Even though my family members all have iPods now, on some nights we still gather together and put on a vinyl record to listen to and appreciate. Others can stick to their over-compressed digital music files on their mp3 players. I’ve got my 33 1/3s with their warm, comfy, tactile quality. I believe in vinyl.