Music Passing through Urban Outfitters today in a moment of midlife crisis / 90s nostalgia for alt.culture, I stumbled up on the vinyl wall and was astonished to see Taylor Swift's 1989 is indeed available on black shiny disc.
While you're all laughing at me for my obliviousness to the idea that vinyl's now back in fashion enough that this item is apparently worth manufacturing, I wondered how one might recreate the experience of listening to vinyl, at least the ritual of it if not the earthy sound, without a record player (especially since, for various reasons, I don't have access to mine right now).
The above video features someone carefully unpacking their vinyl copy of the best pop album of last year, which with some pausing, offers the following extremely useful information of the track to side or side to track breakdown:
1 Welcome To New York
2 Blank Space
4 Out of the Woods
5 All You Had to Do Was Stay
6 Shake It Off
7 I Wish You Would
8 Bad Blood
9 Wildest Dreams
10 How You Get The Girl
11 This Love
12 I Know Places
Notice that it doesn't have the bonus tracks (all of which are as good as the rest of the CD) from the special edition. It's 1989 in its purest form (for better or worse).
Next choose your music listening device of choice. Being entirely pig headed I have the mp3s in the local folder on Spotify. Next, create four new playlists and call them:
Then add in the tracks for each side as per the above breakdown and we're done.
What this means is that like a vinyl listener, after ten minutes of music the listener has to actively go to the next playlist and press play, with all the sense of anticipation involved. You should sit across the room from your generic potentially fruit based mp3 device for maximum emulation. Perhaps give the screen a dust if you need some extra processing time.
The structure of the album changes because "Out of the Woods", "I Wish You Would" and "How You Get The Girl" become the opening tracks in a new set of entities rather than a continuation of the track before which changes the colour and texture of the piece somewhat. Similarly tracks which wouldn't other have extra portent now gain such from being at the end of a "side".
That's what was lost, I suppose in the CD rush and subsequently with streaming and download options. The first side of Paul Simon's Graceland ended with Diamonds on the Souls of her shoes with You Can Call Me Al the introduction to the other side. On the CD, something is certainly lost in that regard and without burning two separate discs, the vinyl (or cassette) experience of having the forced gap in between an original part of the aural design of the record is lost, whole creative discussions about which track to put first on the second side voided.
With 1989, in order to accommodate the whole cd/downloadable entity, albeit the shorter version, the producers of the vinyl have had to put it over the four sides and no doubt in order to balance them across (even though you could certainly fit all the tracks on about one and a half discs), and adopted a 3-3-3-4 formation. So now we have arguably something happening in the opposite direction, a musical entity designed to be listened to in a single sitting, now forcibly broken up by the older format.
Who made the decision on this? Taylor herself? Was the track order chosen with all formats in mind? As far as I can see 1989 wasn't released on cassette so at least that didn't need to be dealt with though oddly the above listing would have worked extremely well, side one ending with "Shake It Off" with side two opening on "I Wish You Would" (a format which again could easily be emulated using the above process with less playlists).
Either way this is a way of returning some minutiae of the analogue experience digitally. Possibly.
Posted on Thursday, June 18, 2015