COLUMN WRITTEN BY KEN KOLASINSKI
So how is everyone’s summer going out there? Hopefully you’ve been enjoying some of the – at times – sweltering temperatures and managing to get to a couple of the truly great shows rolling through our area.
One of the more interesting musical moments Liam and I have had this summer occurred over the weekend, when fresh out of the pool and slightly sunburned, we decided we’d go to the last remaining big bookstore chain and find a couple things to replenish our stack of summer reading material.
As we walked through the door, I was greeted by a man who excitedly asked me “Do you like vinyl records?!”
This was like a fastball down the middle, but I kept a straight face and played it calmly, answering “Yes, indeed I do…”
The answer seemed to give him a jolt of energy as he happily explained the it was “Vinyl Day” at this national chain and in honor of it – I guess they missed the boat on Record Store Day back in April, but I wasn’t going to argue – they were featuring vinyl albums throughout the store and the music section was showing off it’s expanded vinyl section. The day was to show the company’s “commitment to selling vinyl,” he continued.
That one did make me smirk a little. It’s no secret that bookstores are vanishing in much the same way that record and CD stores did. Hopefully you see some irony that I did in a bookstore proudly proclaiming it would sell vinyl albums.
But I’d rather focus on the positive aspect of it all. I noticed a couple people walking around with records under there arms, something I haven’t seen in what felt like ages. I liked the fact that even from a distance I could pick out what people had in hand; across the store a guy held Aerosmith’s “Toys in the Attic” in one hand as he looked at the cover of a book in the other, far to our right I saw a young couple looking at a copy of Nirvana’s “Nevermind.” I was pleased with myself that I could even point out Katy Perry’s “Prism” from afar.
The friendly vinyl spokesperson asked if I had a record player and seemed genuinely surprised when I told him I did. Undaunted, he said I could enter in a raffle to win a new one anyway, maybe I could put it in my son’s room. We did just that and picked up a couple vinyl promo items.
If you’ve followed any news about the music retail world recently, you’ve probably heard that vinyl record sales are actually on the rise over the past few years. I’m still not exactly sure what I’d say is the reason for that. Nostalgia? Sound quality? Novelty?
One thing that did surprise me is the cost of a “new” album. It’s a little pricey for a passing fad, so you can rule that out as a reason for vinyl’s resurgence. Lou Reed’s classic “Transformer” would run you $24.99. The Beatles’ “A Hard Days Night” was $22.99.
And don’t get too comfortable listening to the fab four. With a running time all of 30 minutes, 13 seconds, you getting up to flip that record over barely 15 minutes after you sit down to enjoy it. Still, just the memory of that forgotten music listening ritual made me smile.
I was happy to see that the vinyl section wasn’t just a mass of classic rock albums and artists. Yes, there were plenty of the obvious all-time selections by LP-era legends – Pink Floyd, The Who and Led Zeppelin were well represented – but there was a healthy dose of albums from current artists as well.
We didn’t walk out with any new additions to my collection, but it truly was a fun experience.
I was trying to remember the last time I was beating the heat in air-conditioned splendor, flipping through albums on a July afternoon. As we left, I spotted a couple of younger people filling out raffle tickets for the record player up for grabs.
As one of them dropped his ticket in the box, he enthusiastically said, “How cool would it be if I won?!”
A new record player in 2015? Some new albums to play?
It would be very, very cool.
Ken Kolasisnki’s On Another Note column appears periodically in Ticket.