The Tactile Telling

I miss albums. Not just my once-massive CD collection, but records. I miss their size. I miss holding a new acquisition, studying its cover, wondering who the other characters are (Actors? Friends of the artist? I’m thinking Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler, Billy Joel’s Turnstiles…storytelling albums). I miss staring at that image as the songs played through once, twice, twenty times, searching for nuance and familiarity in the colors, archetypes, composition, perspective, angle.

Because a new album wasn’t just about the music. It was about the entire aesthetic; it was a window into the heart, mind, and psyche of the band, the artist, the songwriter. From there, I could imagine what their book collection looked like, what their favorite color was, where their favorite morning walk would take place, whether they were a coffee/tea/or cocktail kind of person, whether they liked crowds or the relative silence of an instrumental friendship.

I miss that community. I miss the physical act of putting a record on a machine, the necessity of getting up, deliberately making the decision to replay a song, and the scratches that would accompany a well-loved track.

I miss the intimacy I felt opening a new album, finding a spot for it on the shelves—everything about it was just so…pleasing. Tactile. Non-plastic (in every sense of the word). It was real. It was, arguably, even more real than being there in person, and certainly more real than the digital alternatives.

So here we are. Again. And here I am. Again. Arguing for the tactile, for the old-fashioned, for the once-upon-the-time, for the nostalgic, for the life I never had but remember.

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