For most of my life I've been a music collector. It started with a Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet tape in 1986 and it peaked in 2002 with a 1,000+ CD collection and a job at the Castro Street Tower Records that was pretty much a wash in terms of income. It was a fun process building that library, one that was incredibly rewarding over time, but it was also crippling. Collections like that take over your life. You can't get away from them. You end up buying things you don't really need just because of some completionist idea in your mind that tells you: "your Sonic Youth collection will never be comfortable without the Made in U.S.A. soundtrack." I was one of those guys for many years.
It wasn't until I moved to Germany that I digitized my entire collection. That was back when the first iPods came out, so I bought the biggest one possible and brought my entire collection abroad with me in the palm of my hand. It was liberating, to say the least. When I got back in 2005, I went straight to Amoeba and sold every CD I had. I didn't need the actual discs anymore, just the music. I had a hard drive full of thousands of albums at this point, all easily accessible whenever I wanted them. This was the future and I was going to embrace it. Everything was digital and available. There was no need to ever fret about jewel cases, scratches, and rare editions ever again.
But then something happened that I never expected: I stopped caring about music.
For a long time I thought it might be just an age thing. As we get older we have less time for the hobbies of our youth. However, I began to realize over time that it wasn't me, it was the format. Over the last fifteen years, music has completely lost its value in the eyes of the general public and I think the digitization and pirating of MP3s and ACCs has everything to do with it. It took away the ceremony, cheapened the commodity, and destroyed the idea of the album. Music became something I enjoyed while doing something else: driving, working out, cleaning the house, etc. It wasn't until I started getting into vinyl that I rediscovered that feeling of happiness from my youth. Putting on a record helped focus me. I had to sit down and listen to an entire side straight through, rather than skipping around through my iTunes collections or a thematic playlist. It also helped me to better appreciate whiskey. Today when I listen to records, I usually pour a glass of something with it and I limit myself to one option. Last night it was Leopold Bros. Maryland rye with Love & Rockets Earth, Sun, Moon (because I know that's exactly what Todd Leopold would have wanted).
I was talking about this idea yesterday with my co-worker Sal who's going through a similar rediscovery with vinyl. He said to me: "Not only am I listening to the songs that I normally skipped over, I'm actually enjoying those songs the most." I felt the exact same way. About ten years ago I picked up a copy of Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual for a dollar at a garage sale and had that same epiphany. There's a Prince cover of "When You Were Mine" on that album that I had never listened to before because I had skipped over it. Today it's easily my favorite Cyndi song and I have vinyl to thank for that introduction.
Giving any hobby of appreciation the time it needs to present itself is paramount to the enjoyment of that hobby. Sometimes ease and accessibility is actually more of a burden. I've found that slowing down my consumption has helped me to better appreciate whiskey as well, but I never would have taken those steps had it not been for the vinyl.