I've just bought a record player and with it rediscovered my love of music. I have over 30,000 tunes on my laptop, 8000 on my iPod and access to over 17 million on Spotify. I'm overwhelmed.
Until recently I didn't own a single vinyl record so I've started building my collection from scratch. I'm choosing carefully.
I've just idled away three hours in the old record shops of Buenos Aires listening to dozens of discs, making new discoveries and finding old friends. Oscar Peterson, Bob Dylan, Astrud Gilberto, MJQ, CCR, Neil Young, Terry Gibbs, Stan Getz. I can't wait to get home.
And that's the thing about records - you have to be home to play them. Fragile, bulky, non portable - they're a pain in the arse. They demand time, care and attention and all this investment makes you listen to the music more closely. Until recently I hardly ever just sat and listened to a whole album start to finish; now I do it all the time.
It's like cooking. You can easily go to the supermarket and buy a decent ready made meal for a tenner but buy the ingredients yourself and take time preparing the same meal from scratch and it will taste much better. Much of the pleasure is in the journey not the destination. I could take a car from Biarritz to Santiago but walking the 500 mile Camino de Santiago makes the destination all the more profound.
On iTunes I can hear any song I want within seconds of clicking “search”, but browsing through a fusty record shop, discovering a special disc, cleaning it and carefully lowering the needle encourages me to sit back (or dance around the room) and really appreciate the music.