I sense I’m missing out on something wonderful because I cannot hear or feel music the way Frank does (owner & operator of Deep Groove Records in Phoenixville, PA). I have encountered few people with such passion and devotion, which makes me curious and almost envious of him. After reflecting on our conversation, I bought The Car’s Greatest Hits CD so I could try and create a tangible experience with music. Even though it’s a digital recording, at least I will have a jacket cover to touch, band pictures to look at, and a story to read. I wish I could take the experience deeper, but I don’t own a turntable. I hope to visit Frank’s store again and play The Cars record there on his quality vintage system.
I’m really curious what Drive(s) (great ballad hit by The Cars) our culture’s return to music on vinyl. Is music a more meaningful experience when it is more tangible? Does engaging multiple senses satisfy our soul on a deeper level? After observing the spike in vinyl sales at the thrift store where I work, I became curious how the form of music could lure people away from something compact and convenient to something big and inaccessible. Listening to vinyl is counter-cultural; it requires a bulky turntable, a cumbersome speaker system (to get the full effect), and a stationary place not subject to the jerking and jostling of a mountain trail or a treadmill. I remember my grandfather sitting on his couch nibbling on cheese and sipping wine as he listened to classical music. Something quasi-transcendent about that. You mean sit down, pay attention and actively engage music as if we were playing an instrument?
From its most tangible form, i.e. playing an instrument, to its most diluted expression, i.e. elevator music, there is something provocative about melodic sound that can move people in a powerful way or just get them to whistle and tap their feet. Music moves our bodies to dance, it inspires people to kiss, it incites others to rage, and it can even inspire someone who is depressed. Music has the potential to be a tangible form of hope.
That’s what interests me most, ways to make hope tangible. So, if I want to change futures, shape culture, and inspire people, perhaps the best way to do that is through vinyl records and vintage audio equipment? Or by giving everyone a musical instrument to play? As I shared in my TEDx talk, we experience hope in its fullness when we create and contribute in community, perhaps the reason why an orchestra produces such powerful music. But for those who are not musically inclined or cannot afford concert tickets, perhaps listening to vinyl on a vintage audio system is the best way to have a deeply satisfying musical experience.