Every now and then vinyl makes a comeback, and nobody really knows why.
Thinking logically, someone wanting the greatest music clarity would veer toward the crisp, clear, perfection of the digital world and just buy a compact disc or download an MP3.
But vinyl records seem to have a hold on music lovers. When 8-tracks went the way of the dinosaurs, nobody cared. And not that many people cared when audio cassettes went bye-bye.
But vinyl is somehow different. And that difference is being celebrated in the sixth annual Record Store Day, a national recognition of the independent record store. The event takes pace Sat., April 20.
“It’s like the entire week of Christmas in one day,” said Darin Chase, proprietor of Watts Music in Novato. “It’s awesome. It’s our biggest shopping day of the year.”
Watts Music is getting into the spirit of the big day by offering bags of swag, free goodies to customers, and they’ll be spinning vinyl all day in the shop.
“Vinyl sales are getting bigger and bigger,” Chase said, adding that some customers are recapturing their youth while many are youthful.
Chase has a theory about vinyl records and how they differ from CDs, tapes and downloads. “When you play a record, you stop the world and listen to it,” he says. “You stop and listen.”
He said there’s a benefit to hearing the tracks in the order that the artist created, along with perusing the liner notes, admiring the album cover and settling into the musical experience. Whereas, many downloaded songs and CDs are played in the car or at a gym and given only a fraction of attention.
Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally.
Chase said this year’s timing is ideal, as there are 400 titles coming out that day.
His goal, he said, is that people leave the store happy.
The founders of Record Store Day called upon some pop and rock luminaries to add their perspective.
There’s nothing as glamorous to me as a record store … This is why I’m more than happy to support Record Store Day and I hope that these kinds of stores will be there for us all for many years to come,” said Paul McCartney.
"Record stores keep the human social contact alive it brings people together. Without the independent record stores the community breaks down with everyone sitting in front of their computers,” said Ziggy Marley.
“It’s important to keep indie record stores alive because their unique environments introduce music lovers to things in a very personal way,” said Norah Jones.
“The indie record stores are the backbone of the recorded music culture. It's where we go to network, browse around, and find new songs to love. The stores whose owners and staff live for music have spread the word about exciting new things faster and with more essence than either radio or the press. Any artist that doesn't support the wonderful ma and pa record stores across America is contributing to our own extinction,” said Joan Jett, who, by the way, broke the Marin County Fair record for audience size a few years ago.
Watts Music is located at 1211 Grant Ave, Novato.
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