Vinyl records are now more popular than CD's. I guess everything does come around again (just like the sixties-inspired fashions I'm seeing at my local Target store). 

We have a locally-owned record shop that my husband and I perused for years, where we once rabidly scooped up used CD's. It was a quest ~ find something we don't already own and would never have paid full price for ~ but will round out our individual collections. Now the few times a year we stop in, the used CD selection is minuscule; vinyl claims almost all the floor space. 

I don't buy vinyl for a variety of reasons, mostly because my 1980's state-of-the-art sound system is no more. Yes, I rescued a few of its components ~ my ridiculously expensive Bang and Olufsen speakers still take up space in our TV room, but now they serve as the rrroaring background of streamed action flicks. My amp is long gone (I think it eventually developed a short), and I have no idea what happened to my turntable. I don't see the point of plunking down dollars I can't spare for a new setup, and besides, I don't have room for one. Plus, I'm fairly certain my neighbors who share a common wall would not appreciate a booming bass and the volume required to fully appreciate good music. 

And seriously? $25.00 to $35.00 for an album? Come the heck on. I understand inflation, but what? I could afford to buy about three albums a year? 

I know people (okay, guys ~they're always guys.) who collect vinyl. They treat their albums like the Dead Sea Scrolls, barely brushing the plastic-wrapped cover's edges with one finger of each hand.And whatever you do, don't touch it! You don't have the expertise or training required to handle this rare, exquisite work of art! They meticulously maneuver the needle onto the groove with the precision of a neurosurgeon, standing back, stooping over, taking measurements, eyeballing the exact twirling location on which to place the diamond stylus. 

It's not about the music; it's about the acquisition.

Here's how we handled vinyl (simply called "albums") in my record buying days: The first thing that had to go was the plastic wrap. How could you write your name and the year on the back with that crinkled-up cellophane in the way? Custom-built record shelves? I lined my albums up on the carpeted floor of my bedroom. I did try to place the same artist's albums together, but sometimes the entire Jenga apparatus would topple over upon itself, generally when I was away and it knew the coast was clear. I'd come home, shake my head, then bump them all back up against one another.

And the albums I played the most would sometimes etch round circles into the cardboard cover, and the cover's edge would sometimes fray and the record would try to slither itself out of its protective sleeve. I allowed it to do its thing. The music wants what it wants.

As for the stylus (better known as the "needle") I knew exactly where a record would skip or hiccup, and I was at the ready with my thumb to give it the needed nudge to keep it playing. I knew which track (#3) was my favorite and that track #7 was a dud and that I needed to be diligent and pick up the needle and skirt right on past that one.

That's the difference between playing music and admiring a music collection.

My stereo may be long gone, but I still have those albums. They're just as beat up as I fondly remember them. My (maiden) name still adorns the back covers, along with "'73" or whatever year I happened to acquire them. I still know that track number three is the best. I remember that Bill Mack wrote the liner notes for Connie Smith's "Where Is My Castle", and I know which records Pig Robbins played on and I know all the names of Merle Haggard's Strangers.

So, no, I wouldn't invest in vinyl today. I like vinyl that's lived a life. 

And that can't be recaptured.

~ Michelle Anderson, Senior Country Editor