Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Back to Analog

A year or so ago I was clearing out a storage space under the stairs and I came across a couple of VHS tapes I had packed away some time earlier. These were some old TV shows I had recorded and a couple of movies that I had not yet replaced on DVD when I had decided to keep them. They were significant because they were the only pieces of analog media left in the apartment (if you don't count books and I don't). In fact things had moved on to such a degree that beside the box of VHS tapes was my box of CDs, long since burned to MP3 and playing off my iPhone.

I contemplated what to do with the tapes, they did have a certain sentimental value but I realised that even at their peak they were not the best quality and I had long since disposed of the VHS player that could make them useful again. So they went into the bin, the last relics of our analog past. I was quite proud of myself to have finally moved my life to digital.

At least until last weekend when I went shopping for a present for my fiancee. She is a music nut and accounts for an ever growing percentage of the random tracks that appear on my iPhone after a sync. The English punk rock band The Clash have a strange and cheesy role in how we got together 4 years ago, so I decided that a set of Clash albums on vinyl would make an amusing and quirky Valentines gift. Off I went into Dublin City to scour the music shops for vinyl.

It turns out I'm not the only one to have gone digital, the mainstream shops in Dublin have long since made the switch too, pushing CDs into a smaller section and trying to cling to a market of DVDs and Blu-Ray movies. Even some of the old die hard music shops seem to be allocating more space than I would have expected to CDs. Granted many of those CDs were indeed old and from bands I had never heard of and whose names their own members probably struggle to remember after all these years. In the era of iTunes CD's may start to push the old vinyl disks out of the dusty hidden away record shops and into the antique shops as 30 somethings become nostalgic for their first album bought in the 1990s and want to show their kids how Daddy used to listen to music before phones had play buttons.

Eventually after being sent from one shop to another an assistant at one market stall informed me that indeed he had seen some Clash vinyl that very morning but in a different shop around the corner. Off I went and with some relief I finally managed to acquire 3 albums, an EP and a single (for far less than the new versions would cost on iTunes). Now the first album The Clash from 1977 sits in an album frame in our apartment while the discussion takes place on where we should hang it.

The fact that we don't actually have a record player did cross my mind but that's for another days shopping. We will get one, fans would insist that the music should be played, but for the moment this is analog media that has moved to the status of wall art. A historical relic from a previous era. I cant see myself ever hanging a CD on the wall, VHS tapes were never pretty and iTunes album art makes no sense at all in a role outside a computerised screen so perhaps that is the future for analog media in my home, finding a niche as visual art that digital can never hope to usurp.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I love records, they were slightly before my time as it was tapes when I was a kid but I loved going through my parents. I've just started helping my Dad copying his records to his laptop, would be a shame to not be able to play any of his old music in the future.