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The curious case of vinyl records and millennials' vicarious nostalgia

The curious case of vinyl records and millennials' vicarious nostalgia
Vinyl shoppers at Pop Obscure Records in Los Angeles on Aug. 20. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Millennials' fascination with vinyl records — as well as with other elements of a bygone era such as soda fountain shops, roller-skating, furniture, fashion and baking goods — represents a vicarious nostalgia, a longing experienced through the accounts of others, not through direct contact. ("Why is vinyl making a comeback? 'Nostalgia' doesn't quite cut it," Opinion, Jan. 3)

Different from other forms of nostalgia, the vicarious experience is richer in imagination, giving a sense of a better past, from which one is excluded except for the cognitive exercise of recreation.

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Facing a double exposure of two images, imagined past and tangible present, millennials are embracing aspects of that past without rejecting technological progress and innovation, finding in turn that is is indeed possible to reconcile those realities that can peacefully and happily coexist in the present.

Berta Graciano-Buchman, Beverly Hills

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To the editor: David Sax makes salient points, but he left out a key point that is spurring vinyl's comeback: information.

I worked in record stores from 1969-81, ending two years before the introduction of the compact disc. I always read liner notes to inform myself as to whether I liked an album before the record hit the turntable. If a producer or the songwriters were on it, I automatically knew it was worth a spin.

Digital technology and streaming have eliminated easy access to useful information beforehand. I now rely on very slow word-of-mouth for what is worth searching out, and the fact that record stores are few and far between make new discoveries quite difficult.

Savor vinyl for its information and be enlightened.

Gary Dennis Jackson, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The closest thing to an answer to Sax's question in his article is nostalgia.

But there may be another answer: Most sound engineers prefer analog over digital. Digital is more accurate but analog sounds softer, more natural, and more "organic." Vinyl is analog.

Richard Parr, Santa Monica

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