It was the fall of 2017! I was a young, bright eyed junior, fresh off a summer filled with Tyler the Creator’s Flower Boy, listening to the interlude “Sometimes” on a Jersey Shore beach on Labor Day weekend. The song blasted from my shitty iPhone speakers at full volume while waves crashed and the sun set, capturing what had been an emotional, warm and beautiful summer. As the song ended and the album cover on my screen changed to the next song on my “summa?!?!?! 17” Spotify playlist, I was sad thinking about how that very real, special moment was only represented by a temporary digital picture on my phone screen. From then on, when a song captured my day, my mood, or my journey, I screenshotted it and shared it on my Snapchat or Instagram. At the end of the semester, I looked back at all my screenshots: the multiple times I screenshotted “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield before a midterm, the time I screenshotted “Nikes” by Frank Ocean while crying, thinking of my girlfriend halfway across the country, the time I screenshotted “Just a Friend” by Biz Markie when appendicitis sent me to the emergency room. I resolved to print all of these screenshots and put them in a collage, so I could have something physical to represent my musical and emotional journey that year. It was through this journey of turning something temporary and digital into something lasting and physical that I learned to appreciate the beauty that is music in its prime physical form: a record.
Stevie Wonder’s masterpiece, “Songs in the Key of Life,” was the first record I ever bought, and my collection has only grown from there. Hendrix’s “Axis Bold as Love,” Tame Impala’s “Lonerism,” Kid Cudi’s “End of the Day: Man on the Moon,” and “The Best of Sam Cooke” are currently on heavy rotation at my desk. Records not only sound better, but they make the listener understand and appreciate the album as an art form. The album cover is fully presented in all its glory, and if the album is good, each song flows seamlessly into the next. You have to handle the record with love and care, gently setting the needle on the record, and flipping the record when it’s time to listen to the next side. The love and care you put into the record is the same kind of love and care that the artist poured into it. Music represents emotions, and records tangibly represent these waves of emotions that we cycle through and revisit, year after year, as our records get dusty and we clean them, just for them to get dusty once again. The reason there has been a resurgence in records and we are celebrating Record Store Day on Saturday is because people understand this. When we have something tangible to remember and weigh our emotional growth with, it is special. And records are special.