by Juline Chevalier
I have fallen in love, and it’s all the museum’s fault.
As we’ve prepared for the exhibition “The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl” I’ve heard numerous artists, curators and staff members wax poetic about records.
I didn’t really get it until this week. This week I have been sifting through 500 vinyl records from the 1950s to the early 1990s that we purchased for K-12 and family programs.
I grew up on the edge of the transition from vinyl to CDs. My dad is a classical music nut, and so his massive record collection and component stereo system were off limits to me (for fear I would damage something.) I had cassette tapes, but never my own records. I envied friends who had a Fisher Price turntable. (I also envied friends who had Hungry Hungry Hippos, but for different reasons.)
So, this week, I’ve been pulling out records and playing them on a small turntable in my office. And now I understand the appeal of vinyl. The act of dropping the needle on the disc is magical, and it’s really soothing to watch the record revolve on the turntable. It’s also nice to be able to glance over and see what track I’m listening to and how many more are left.
There are drawbacks, like the short play-time. I haven’t played a record yet that has more than 40 minutes of music on it total. I’ve also heard a few pops and clicks, but they aren’t bothersome, and there’s something reassuring about the soft fuzzy sound you hear before each track.
So, to my fellow Gen X-ers (and everyone younger), I hope you fall in love with vinyl, too.
Juline Chevalier is the curator of education at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and recent vinyl convert.