Lost Pleasures of the Analog
First in a series?
I remember purchasing the Talking Heads album, Little Creatures, on vinyl years ago. Musically speaking, it’s not my favorite Talking Heads album, nor was it then, but I absolutely loved the album artwork. Whenever I played it, I would hold the sleeve in my hands and study the picture of the band on the back cover:
I liked the front cover illustration too, but I loved this picture of the four band members in their rich, colorful clothes.
In the early 90s, after I had moved to Tempe AZ, I used to frequent a record store called Stinkweeds, and I would talk to the founder, Kimber, at length. She knew what I liked, what I’d purchased before, and she would point me to new artists. Stinkweeds is where I learned about The Flaming Lips, Low, Lambchop, and so many other bands. And then if I could afford it that day, I would buy something. I couldn’t always afford it, but that was okay. It wasn’t weird to go to Stinkweeds to chat with Kimber and just browse. (While writing this, I was surprised and delighted to discover that Stinkweeds is still there.)
These things are largely lost – talking to friends and strangers about music in anticipation of a future purchase. The pleasure of unwrapping a new album and playing it for the first time. Playing whole albums at all! Studying the liner notes and reading the lyrics of each song as it plays.
Every person’s music collection was limited by boundaries of cost and physical space, and therefore a person’s collection was carefully curated and told you something about them. A person’s music was something you’d peruse if you were in their home long enough, and perusing it was a visual and tactile experience. I was grateful for shelves of books and CDs (by the time I was in college, it was mostly CDs, not vinyl) whenever I found myself at a house party, because they were my introvert’s escape, my break from socializing, a way to pause and quickly recharge. I’ve heard other fellow introverts say the same.
I don’t have a profound insight here. Just savoring a particular bit of nostalgia.