My adult kids like to tell me I’m old and not very hip. But as usual they’re wrong, and I have evidence in the form of the book “The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter,” published earlier this year by David Sax.
I could kiss this man. His book is all about how old stuff is not only hip and cool again but it’s in many ways superior to the stuff that has replaced it.
Like vinyl records and record players. They’re apparently selling like hotcakes (which is a ridiculously old and dumb expression by the way. I doubt hotcakes ever sold like hotcakes. Because they’re hotcakes.)
I like record albums much better than CDs and digital, and always have. It’s not the music quality. Digital and CDs have it all over albums as far as music quality.
What I like is the other stuff, the intangibles. There’s a ritual to putting an album on the turntable that is wonderfully satisfying, perhaps because there’s a certain slowness to it: Pull out dust jacket; hold the album with forefinger in the hole, thumb on the edge, so as not to smudge it; place it gently – almost reverently – on the turntable like it’s made of glass; drop the needle, wait for the first “pop” to know it’s caught the groove correctly. Crank up and enjoy. Ahhh.
I also like album covers. Big, square album covers. In the past, album covers were a big, big deal. They said something about the band and the music. Now, album covers are an afterthought, and there’s no such thing as liner notes or a lyric sheet.
Kids, you don’t know what you’re missing. I’ve mentioned this before, but my two favorite album covers are Queen’s “News of the World” and Poco’s “Legend.” The Queen album cover features a robot that has just murdered the band by sticking his finger through their chests, and the Poco cover is a simple line drawing of a horse made by Phil Hartman, the guy who later starred on Saturday Night Live. I don’t know why they’re my favorites. They just are.
Sax says books are back, too, which is good news, but to me they never went away. I’ve dallied with digital books. I’ll say this: they’re OK. But paper books are way better. Here’s why: 1) Books smell better 2) A book never runs out of juice when you’re in the middle of a good chapter 3) You can dog-ear books – I’m a big dog-ear guy, and 4) Books look great on a shelf and tell the world what an erudite fellow you are, even if you’re not.
Even paper and pens are back as well, which I would never have guessed. According to Sax, there’s a subculture that prefers taking notes at work using pen and paper vs. a laptop. I am among them, and always have been. I work at a place with lots and lots of millennials, who loooove their tech. I am usually the only one in meetings taking notes on paper. I used to feel a bit self-conscious about that.
But no more. This book has set me free. I am hip once again. Take that, kids. You owe your old man an apology.
Now if only newspapers would get cool again.