I Used To Love Vinyl

I Used To Love Vinyl

My love of records (wax aka vinyl), goes back as long as my existence on earth because in my youth that was the most popular format of music. You had full length albums, singles as either 45’s or 12 inches and some people still were doing 78’s.

But once I reached high school my love of music became an obsession and “finding vinyl” was the chief search. Even as a south side kid I ventured as far as Evanston (Second Hand Tunes), and the old Les Turner ALS Foundation record sale every Autumn in Skokie (Thanks Frank & Ed Dybas), so I learned the city and suburbs all in the name of vinyl.

Once I reached DePaul University I knew how to shop for a record, how to quickly go through a bin, what were the hard to find pieces on my every growing mental list and how to check a good piece of vinyl. I used to go up and down Clark Street in Lincoln Park to the old Dr. Wax and Gramaphone and check out vinyl almost weekly.

My small collection grew from one milk crate to two to a three shelf shelving unit from Menards.

I initially bought Technics SL-BD20 turntable while still in high school from the old Musicraft in south suburban Homewood and later was also using my late grandmothers combo turntable/tape deck and then also got a Sony turntable from the old Circuit City so then I had two tables working together. I thought I was the man.

Around my freshman year when my record collection was hitting high gear I also got into jazz (mostly traditional), so new records to get, more cats to learn and I’m just feeding this obsession. Friends and relatives start giving me their own records as they find out about my passion and they are no longer playing their vinyl.

There’s a picture that was the logo for the old Second Hand Tunes in Evanston and its the image of a customer smiling and happily holding a new record. If you’ve seen their brown paper bags with the image or on the window of the store, that was me.

Yes was, its been at least a year (maybe two), since I’ve purchased any vinyl. When I’m in the city and see one of the new record stores or anyone selling vinyl, I make like Isaac Hayes and Walk On By. Its not that I hate vinyl but that my passion has passed. I actively shopped, researched, collected and made my friends and family wait while I looked at vinyl for the better parts of 20 years and then one day I just stopped.

I admit I miss the chase, I miss finding “new” great records, I miss the interesting conversations with fellow collectors when shopping for vinyl. Its definitely a niche culture and maybe too much of hipster thing now but I have all the vinyl I could ever want, I rarely have time to really sit down and play it and after going through some of it a few weeks ago realized “wow I haven’t been playing any vinyl”.

But I guess I moved on, I listen to Spotify, I’ve always had a love of underground hip hop and Sound Cloud is great for that. I have satellite radio in both of my vehicles, so its not like I’m not listening to good music, mostly “old school”, but I’m just not into vinyl anymore.

I admit I walk past those stores (even drive past one in Downers Grove almost daily), and I look with a mix of sorrow and nostalgia when I spent enormous amounts of time (and money), chasing that great hard to find record or lucking up on some long forgotten favorite.

But that’s life, we move on or more precisely its how the record spins.
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    Charles W. Johnson

    I'm a lifelong writer (since I was 8 years old), and have been doing this blog in some form or fashion since 2004. I'm a DePaul University alum, class of 1999 and prior to that Brother Rice class of 1994. . And I appreciate you taking to the time to read what I have to say, feel free to email charles.w.johnson@hotmail.com

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