Editorial: Hello, operator… can you connect me with my song, please?

Those of you that are too young to have actually bought and spun vinyl may not understand this post.  Today I ask the question, are we connected to the songs we play anymore?

I started thinking about this when I was reminiscing about the “good old days” when I was in high school, spending my hard earned cash on a few vinyl singles every week.  I’d go down to the local record store and flip through everything twice to make sure I didn’t miss something good.  There wasn’t a huge selection, but that was the only store around.  I’d only have enough money to get 4 or 5 records, if that, so each selection was an important, often long and meaningful process.  There would be times I would just sit records next to each other in the bins and stare at them, hoping that one would jump out and say, “pick me!”

Because of this process, there was a much deeper connection to the songs you played.  You only had those records and you were going to play them at your parties, whether anybody else liked them or not! Haha.  In those days you would listen to every track on that record.  You’d interrogate every remix of a song.  You might even play the b-side.  You were connected to the music you had, because you owned it!

I think a lot of that connection is lost these days.  Sure, it’s great that all this music is at our fingertips.  It’s nice not having to leave your house to get the hottest remix of a song.  You don’t have to pay a dime for your music if you really don’t want to.  But the connection with the song is gone.  And if not gone, then it’s substantially less than it used to be.

If a song gets deleted from your iTunes you might not ever notice, but if you lost a record… you’d be going all over the place looking for it.  Times are always changing and I’m not saying it’s been for the worse.  I’m simply making an observation.  What’s your experience been?  Do you still feel the same connection to the songs you play?  What do you miss about the vinyl days?

10 comments

  1. Good point guys…. I was just talking the other day about how long I would look for a record in the store waiting week after week for the poor shmuck to return some 12″ that I was after (DRAMARAMA “anything”, how long did i look for that song!) I think commercial music is so disposable today that I have no connection to anything! I make a remix only as a means to an end sometimes. But I feel a little more connected to vinyl that i ripped into mp3, haha… that’s like that grey area in between vinyl and mp3. As a dj it’s great that music is so readily available and any song is basically a mouse click- sometimes an instant message- away. But as a lover of all kinds of music it sux because there’s not enough “good” music to round out all these soulja boys and lady gagas.

    As far as connected to my remixes, I am all over the place. Sometimes I do it for the love, sometimes for the love (of money), but I always put my spin and my stamp on what the final product delivered. Still miss thumbing thru record covers… Lethal weapon covers… mmmm…

  2. Alex K (Anthem Kingz)

    Wow, I’ve always talked to my old DJ partners about this subject. We reminisce about the days we used to starve ourselves cuz our parents would give us lunch money but we’d save it to go record shopping at the end of the week. Sometimes we’d even go in the 99 cent bins and change the records to the more expensive ones in hopes that the cashier wouldn’t notice. None of our parents ever supported what we did and thought it was a waste of time and money. But we didn’t care. We did what we had to do. We had to make it to the record shop every delivery day. Because if you didn’t make it there on time you might miss a record you’d never see again. Maybe a rare white label with the craziest tracks you’ve ever heard. Nowadays whatever rare track that ever came out you can pretty much find online. Technology robbed us of our adventures. I can’t remember how many times I’ve skipped school. No money but would take the subway to the record store just to put some records on hold. You’re right Jay. It’s not the same. It’s easier now. But is it necessarily better? To each their own I guess. I personally miss those days. But not spending that money.

  3. Amen! I was thinking the same thing last Friday… the opening DJ’s Serato took forever to close during the switch, and I mixed two real vinyl records together for the first time in a long time. It got me thinking. I miss a lot about those days (except the back pain from carrying crates). Those rare cuts, remixes, and mashups were yours back then. You were the guy who played that track. You were probably the only guy in your city that played that record. And because music wasn’t as disposable and the DJ actually had some say in what music got played through the coarse of a night (in my opinion, we would be lying to ourselves to think we still do much of that in this bottle service world), we could actually play cool-but-lesser-known B sides, break new music, and have even more of our own sound and still kill it with those records. Don’t get me wrong, making your own edits now gives us more of a unique sound then ever, but remember how powerful playing something like Don’t Stop Believing was before Serato and before everyone had that record??? Shit like that was yours. Maybe you played that track and the guy at the club next door played Billie Jean, or vice versa. We were more connected to the music and the actual physical records. Those records you were so excited about finding were far more powerful in the club pre-Serato and pre-CC… cause not everybody had it.

  4. I am one of those ppl that are kinda older by todays standard to have vinyl, but as a beginning dj.. i took it upon my self to indulge myself in the culture that is the DJ. the turntables and vinyl. i completely agree.. the connection is sometimes loss since everything is a click away but the edits,remixes, and blends are taking over and the connection has been passed on

  5. Word to all the comments.
    I have been in the game for 20+ years. I do miss the vinyl days a lot, becuase you really had to be up on you vinyl game. And then toward the dark days when they would release a few records for every 100 or so cd’s you really had to be up on vinyl. that made it even more selective. Not everybody had the same songs. So you really would buy in to the song because you invested money in to it. but don’t get me wrong there were some duds in the bunch but there were always instrumentals that you could mix with another to get some life out of it.

    I think the turn around for me was when i started to DJ on the radio, I was gettting vinyl for free, i got a chance to see and get songs that never made it to the midwest(kansas city) that i really kinda lost touch with some of the music. It was hard to keep up due to records coming out every week, and trying to fit these songs on radio and at the clubs. It was demanding, becuase everybody want to be played on the radio so the sound got watered down and all the music started to sound the same. but a rare song would break out.

    Now everybody has just about the same collection, I really enjoy playing old school hip-hop and funk because to some degree these songs aren’t being traded because most of the old school djs still remember what it was like to eat tuna fish, popcorn and kool-aid for dinner so that you can have that rare 45 to bust that friday at your gig.

    But one thing i don’t miss, being sore the next day from carry crates up and down stairs. whew!!! LOL LOL

    Keep bang’n!
    1

  6. Being connected to a song has changed along with the industry. I am still connected to songs based on memories and some of the memories are from old record stores. My favorite was Lukes in Pawtucket RI where I would dig all day and spend everything I had!! The connection now is the club I played it at, the first time I heard it, or even the people I was with. I wouldn’t say the connection is gone but you just have different memories of it. If it was an option to buy records on ebay when I was younger I probably would have done that. It is a lot easier than going to the store and hoping to find what you need sometimes. Besides a good hour set every two weeks would cost over 100 bucks each time. Personally I like it better the way it is but don’t regret digging and still do it from time to time to find the records I always wanted.

  7. I definitely miss flicking thru my vinyls and pulling em up in the crate as I found tracks I wanted to put in. Its changed my style and I do think a connection has been lost or at least changed.

    It was a sign I’d had a good night when finding my records in a complete mess afterwards, and I miss the buzz of having a bunch of records pulled out on the fly and working them into a set. I also remember the moments of deliberation when youre bag was stuffed full and you had to decide what to leave behind!

    That having been said I think most of us know that the advantages of the new way outweigh what we miss. And the fact that anyone can find the music they want to play shifts the skill set to selection from digging more so….

  8. “Technology robbed us of our adventures”… I’m committing that to memory.

    I’ve been spinning nearly 20 years and with newer music there’s definitely a bit of a disconnection. I’ve whittled my own vinyl collection down to about 2000 pieces over the years, all tucked away and organized in one of those Ikea cases that covers one wall of my office. As little as I actually use them though I’m far more connected, as a DJ and music lover, to those classics. Each piece has a story behind it. I could probably tell you when/where I tracked each one down, why I bought it, where I was spinning at the time, etc. In the post-vinyl era, there’s no real story to tell – or rather each story is roughly the same. It was something I found and liked so I bought it, d/l-ed it, got it from a friend, added it to Serato… end of story. I have certain personal attachments to remixes I’ve done or to records I’ve helped break through mixshows I’ve done but that’s about the extent of it. A great record is a great record regardless and it doesn’t matter much how you came to acquire it. The crowd reaction it creates when you drop it in a set is what my memory holds on to more than anything else these days.

  9. I think part of the problem why there is no connection to the music is because we don’t connect with the “artists” anymore. Most of the music from our past we can remember where we heard it the first time or what record store we bought the 12″ from.

    Most of today’s music is disposable and created more for ringtone sales. Most “artists” seem so fake with their persona that we can’t relate to them or anything that they’re saying.
    When you think about it, we where exposed to music a lot slower in the past, which gave us time to soak it in. Nowadays a rapper will drop an album and then 2 weeks later drop a mixtape with 20 more songs in attempt to flood the market with their music. The end result is that you might like a few of that rappers songs but you will feel no real connection to it.

    I guess what I’m really trying to say is Quality over Quantity

  10. I dunno about yall but I always bring about 10 pieces of vinyl with me, Just in case… LOL

    I do miss the vinyl only days. I used to sit at places like Cues Records, Zebra, Amoeba & Rasputins, for days, digging thru their used vinyl sections. Those had/still have the best selections. I find myself every so often buying a few pieces of vinyl that I had been looking for in my collection. Ive been buying more used Discs in the past 3 years, and ripping them to digital. Alot of gems can still be found if people dig hard enough, regardless of format.

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