The media says that vinyl records are making a comeback. New bands are starting to produce their music on vinyl and record stores are emerging, once again, all over the country.
This month, a new record exchange, or used LP record store, opened near us. Jupiter Records is a really cool place, and on opening day, I expected to see my stereotype of a record store crowd. My expectations were only partly met, however, as I took in the handful of hipsters, a few facial piercings, and a cool young guy with mutton chops working the register. Among the wall-to-wall crowd of about a hundred, though, the majority was made up of middle aged men, sporting short hair, beer bellies, eyeglasses, and collared polo shirts. Soon, my sons and I lost track of my husband in the crowd and my 23 year old joked, “Its really hard to find dad in here. Everyone looks exactly like him!”
I chuckled and remembered what this group would have looked like 25 years ago, envisioning a sea of rock and roll t-shirts and long hair. I wondered to myself if this is the crowd that is leading the so-called vinyl revival.
But if my husband’s crowd is, in fact, bringing back the vinyl that they loved so much, what other revivals from their youth might they spur as well? The last things I want to see are the revival of the flannel shirt, the bandanna, the Disco Sucks shirt, or the mullet.
This week, I was a seller at the Clearview High Band Parents Craft Show, a big and bustling craft event where I was excited to share, and hopefully sell, my upcycled housewares and vinyl LP bowls to the holiday shoppers.
My LP bowls, melted and reshaped from actual LP records, are usually a big hit among those males in the 40-something to 50-something set, the same guys from the record exchange. Most of these fellows, after all, still have 300 or 400 albums carefully stashed in their attic crawlspaces. Some still play their LPs, but many don’t, but they sure as heck aren’t parting with them anytime soon. In vinyl’s heyday, these men worshiped their record collections, studying liner notes and sleeve art, and spending hour upon hour listening, via really giant headphones, to the stereo separation on tracks by the Cars and Pink Floyd.
But with this demographic, I have to offer a disclaimer immediately, as soon as they approach my craft booth.
“Don’t worry, I only melt an album that was scratched or damaged. I would never ruin good vinyl,” I tell them, truthfully, as they approach.
“Oh thank goodness,” most of the graying men reply, with visible relief. “When I saw what you had done to these records, I started to get upset.” Then they look through my stock and typically pick some Kansas or Yes bowl to purchase.
At today’s craft show, though, my first customer was a teenage girl, around 15 years old.
Usually teens approach my wares with a look of puzzlement. Often, they lead by asking, “Are these those taco bowl makers from TV?” And then I offer a mini-tutorial on records and record players, and the teen politely excuses him or herself and walks away, clearly bored.
But this young woman did not look puzzled.
Instead, she was studying my vinyl LP record bowls with a furrowed brow and as she ran her hand across the bowls, her face was stricken with concern and disapproval. This was a look I had seen many times before, only on the faces of folks a bit older.
“Don’t worry, I only melt an album that was scratched or damaged. I would never ruin good vinyl.”
“Oh thank goodness,” she said. “When I saw what you had done to these records, I started to get upset.” And then she added, “I really love vinyl!”
She really loves vinyl?!
And it turn out that she is not the only one.
All day, teens were frequent visitors at my booth, browsing, asking questions, and buying. These teens had a lot to say about vinyl and they excitedly told me about their turn tables and what they liked to listen to and about raiding their dad’s 300 to 400 albums from the attic crawlspace. And in return, I told them about record exchanges and showed them cool LP features like the etching on the flip side of Paradise Theater.
So the vinyl revival is really happening.
And to my relief, it appears that it is NOT being led by middle-aged men.
So please encourage the teens in your life to embrace this vinyl resurgence.
Because I was there when Joe used to dress a bit too much like Garth from Wayne’s World and I am hoping to never see that again.
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