- Matt Johnson,
ISU music junkie
|Jared Alcorn, storeowner of Waiting Room Records, inspects a vinyl record at the store in Normal. (Photo by George Jett / Staff Photographer)|
NORMAL- They walk with a fast pace down North Street, clutching in their hands what they need. A simple necessity to get by for a few more days until the need for a fix comes roaring back, all other obligations seem pointless.
Not looking any person in the eye, they scurry to their house or apartment. Often they are seen wearing sunglasses to hide their eyes. Once home, it is straight to their living room or bedroom, they sit in the most comfortable spot available for the temporary obtainable high. Everything is on the table, and the needle is ready.
“There is never enough,” they say.
The next hour is their own, for no one is to bother them.
The twin city of Bloomington-Normal is host to three separate record stores. Each store works separately to cater music to “junkies” throughout central Ill., while simultaneously working together.
“I do my best to tell people [to go to the other stores in town] if I don’t have something,” Jared Alcorn, storeowner of Waiting Room Records in Normal, said. “It’s funny when people come in and they say ‘looks like you got some hefty competition,’ but that’s not the case, we all work together.”
Waiting Room Records and North Street records are both located in Uptown Normal, with Reverberation Vinyl in Bloomington not far away. This is key to attracting music junkies from all over so once they are finished at one store, they move on to the next one. With its first appearance in the late 1940’s, a nostalgic want for the vinyl record has outlasted 8-tracks, cassettes and CD’s. Vinyl record is also the go-to aesthetic format for bands wanting consumers to get the best quality sound from their music.
“Digital [music] is soulless,” John Anderson, storeowner for Reverberation Vinyl, said. “It isn’t even really playing anything. [Digital music] is a bunch of ‘1’s’ and ‘0’s’ being moved around.”
The rebirth of success with vinyl music comes from dissatisfaction with the digital format of music. Many “junkies” that collect vinyl are young and enthusiastic people who are getting into the format for the first time.
“[College age students] have always known digital music,” Anderson continued. “Where as people my age and a little older have went from records, to tapes, to CD’s, to digital music and now back to record’s. It is that desire to have a three-dimensional object that you drop a needle into the grove, it’s a physical act.”
The discovery of vinyl within college-aged students is a completely different experience musically, compared to music that is purchased on a computer.
“You actually have to spend time with [a record]. You can’t put it on your arm and go running,” said Alcorn. “You can’t throw it in your car and drive around to do errands. You have to sit down and not go anywhere. When you invest your personal life in something, it’s going to mean a lot more to you.”
A popular thing among records stores, especially the ones in Bloomington-Normal, is the one-dollar collection. Music junkies flock at the chance to buy records priced at a dollar. Often this amounts to 10 records for the price of one digital download on iTunes. In an economy that is currently down, paying a dollar for an album makes sense. For their money they now have a tangible thing that in return may be worth something down the road, instead of a digital copy of music.
“I prefer to listen to vinyl for the raw, pure sound it produces,” said Matt Johnson, music junkie here at ISU. “The feeling you get when you’re holding a new vinyl can’t even compare to a digital copy.”
An overwhelming dissatisfaction has led music buffs to stray towards local record stores in search for something better.
“I don’t know how many people came in and say that they download music and finally it is too much,” Alcorn said. “All they have to do is click a button and get 450 billion songs for free.”
A close friend of Alcorn’s said downloading music at the click of a button was too much to handle. So he decided to start buying only records and listen to them one at a time until he finally learned to enjoy music again, instead of having to sift through thousands of songs at a time.
Vinyl records can also be treated as pieces of art. A 12-inch record comes in a sleeve that is host to a piece of art that can be appreciated by the “junkie.” What once started out as a 12-inch image, has slowly decreased to a 5-inch image, on a CD, into a picture the size of a thumbnail on an iPod.
The environment of a record store is also one that many would take for granted. Human interaction is something digital music does give access to.
“I have actually started bands with people I have met in record stores,” said Anderson. “Going into a store and flipping through all their stuff, it is not the same as scrolling through iTunes.”
Music junkies collect vinyl because there is never enough to go around. There is a regular who frequents Waiting Room Records, who, after every record he ends up buying, says,
“I am only one record away from completing my collection,” according to Alcorn.
There are never enough records to complete a collection. The junkie never stops searching for different outlets to get his fix. Even though Bloomington-Normal houses three key locations to find such assets, there is never enough.