How Vinyl Got Us Where We Are Today

By Recohit

I love The Thrill that ManWithHat wrote here. I can really feel his reverence for the music from what he says.

I was for some reason driven to put down the following words, probably cause I grew up and came of age in the 50's, and was really part of that time when rock came upon the scene and changed so much. Also worked years in the music business producing hundreds of TV and radio ads and other projects for the major labels, and experienced the evolution from vinyl to now.

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How Vinyl Got Us Where We Are Today

To use a fitting expression, it’s groovy to see long overdue recognition of the versatile black plastic disk here in the Vinyl Initiative. But in the iPad age it might be challenging for some out there to fully fathom the unique and transformational role in our culture that sound on vinyl has played.

In short, vinyl was the first medium anyone could own, that provided the ability to control and manipulate reality. At the least, it was one of the earliest examples of a kind of all-encompassing virtual reality. To get the idea you have to appreciate what sound on vinyl meant, especially to young people coming came of age in the fifties and sixties. And in the media dominated world we celebrate here at HitRECord, projecting back to the rather dreary, dark and different leisure world of vinyl’s heyday could take some doing.

But fearlessly, let’s jump right in and begin by eliminating Facebook, Twitter and what the heck, all social and networking media. Next grab Google and its ability to make sense of the web. Never mind, let’s just take whole web, along with email, texting, and any other thing you ever wanted to lookup or know. Somewhat head spinning… but having eliminated just these we’ve probably left you with at least an extra hour in your day. Ok, faster now.

No iPods. Cell phones. Only way to call anyone is find a telephone attached to the wall or something called a public phone booth. While on the phone let’s lose push button dialing and for that matter direct dial plus free long-distance. Did somebody say Operator?

Video camcorders, aloha. Ditto video games. Gotta pause for a moment cause that’s mega-monsta huge right there! Now you’ve got at least a couple of empty hours per day. But probably not enough to be getting bored so we’re not done yet.

No more computers. Whap! Stop and think about it. Absurdly Huge. Not a laptop, desktop, hard drive, modem or mouse anywhere, not yet even in anyone’s imagination. Gone Photoshop, FinalCut, ProTools, word processing and any other program that’s ever made life easier or more fun. No computer graphics on TV. No digital content. Compared to today, practically nothing.

A bit off balance, prepare to drop nine hundred-ninety-nine cable channels, all cable TV in fact. Screens shrivel to twenty-one or seventeen inches, tinny, tiny audio. Seven black and white channels mostly feeding fodder for the masses and not much for you.

Finally, let’s trash all post-vinyl audio media, no compact disks, cassettes. Every home and hand-held audio tape recorder disappears. FM radio quietly just getting off the ground. Instead of theaters with surround sound, far fewer screens, mostly small, smelly with audio that sucked.

Compared to current times, pretty bleak back then, distraction-wise. So what got you through the day? Work, school, homework, after school activities. Cruddy radio, grainy TV, driving around, hanging around, being bored. The point is, it was exactly this diversionary wasteland that amped up impact of the one technology that was available, simple, easy to afford, collect and store… vinyl.

But, as mentioned at the outset, how did vinyl allow control of reality? Because back then, just as is today, reproduced sound is in fact, actual sound that is real. Our eyes always know they’re staring at a screen. But ears don’t experience a projection of reality; sound they hear is indistinguishable from reality, it is reality.

Noisy, fragile, limited-range 78’s existed earlier it’s true. But it was unbreakable, expanded-frequency, long-playing records, along with newly available hi-fi amps and speakers of the fifties and stereo in the sixties, that gave audio it’s power and made it a stand-out, all-immersive experience like no other. And it was vinyl’s ability to produce sound inexpensively and accurately that led to the great music explosion, the then booming recording industry, and so much of the culture we know and love today.

Smack in the middle of the last century, with a dearth of leisure time activities compared to today, nothing else even came close in terms of the ability to recreate reality. Vinyl was enthroned as the medium that made the music that gave young people a new self- awareness and power. They sang, they danced, they got it, got it on, and broke free. That whole liberation, which rocks our culture yet today, was aided and abetted and spirited into the world in a very real and wonderful way, via vinyl. Viva Vinyl.

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How Vinyl Got Us Where We Are Today

Created: Jan 28, 2010

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