I love vinyl records. I was collecting them before it was hip, and as the fad seems to be heading toward cassette tapes (which is nuts, because cassettes sound terrible) I will still be getting my physical medium which, like me, dies more every time it does something.
There’s a principal in forensic science that every interaction leaves a trace. If you walk across the carpet, there will be fibers on your shoes, and marks on the carpet. Every single bit of wear that occurs to an item is not the result of catastrophe, but the accumulation of everyday interaction.
Every single time I play one of my vinyl records (and here’s that collection) something is left on the needle, and the needle leaves its trace on the record. According to some site I just looked up, contact points between the needle and the vinyl can reach up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. That leaves a mark, and so does every time you touch the big old disc, every time you forget to rub it down or close the player lid, so that dust falls onto the record while you’re playing it.
My niece asked me why I liked these old discs (she’s 7) and I used some usual saws about the bigger artwork, and didn’t bother explaining the tactile feelings.
But the real reason I get a stupid amount of stuff on vinyl to complement my irrationally large digital library is that a) discrete chunks of music are better than infinite ones, because listening forever means listening never, and b) when the nukes explode in the atmosphere and all our solid-state technology is destroyed in a flash of electro-magnetism, I still want to have Leb’wohl available to me, or Diamond Dogs.
The fragile impermanence of the physical medium makes it more permanent. It’s what we call a paradox, son.