Vinyl Triathlon 2020: Going The Distance with Keller

by Keller // David & Keller

It seems every week I ruin something else. Last week it was my britches, and this week it’s the playlist. You see, I was planning to do an all-beach edition, and I had a pretty decent setlist and story going. But then, with 48 hours to go, I realized it was the WUSC Vinyl Triathlon. How the hell can I put together a playlist about the beach smack dab in the middle of the Vinyl Olympics?! The answer is I cannot. So, once again, I am scrambling. I don’t like to scramble.

I like to take time with these things. Caress them, buy them steaks, watch them from that tree across the road. You know, love them. Really love them. But, as was the case with my themed playlist a couple of weeks ago, I dropped the ball. So I ask that you bear with me. Grant me a little leniency here.

To be honest, vinyl was never a big part of my life and it’s not a huge part of it now, so I probably should have stuck with the beach theme. I grew up with cassettes and then transitioned with most everyone else to CDs. I have a trunk or two filled with them now that I move around with me from house to house. They are like cement blocks, but are worth slightly less. I did all my purchasing at Sound Shop in the Hillcrest Mall, which was a record store that was more corporate than hipster. It certainly didn’t resemble the record shop in High Fidelity. Sound Shop didn’t sell vinyl and it wasn’t a very intimidating shopping experience. I could be wrong, but I imagine the clerks there knew more about ferrets than they did about music.

High Fidelity - Top 5 Side 1, Track 1s (HD) - YouTube
Blessed be the gatekeepers.

But there is something intimidating about many record shops — especially those that sell a lot of vinyl. Because those guys working there are music lovers. If you just heard about a new band, they’ve already seen them live and think they suck now. And maybe they aren’t judging your tastes like the characters in High Fidelity do, but it sure seems that way. It’s sort of odd to think about, really. I don’t go into a local beer joint and wonder what the guy behind the counter is going to think when I put a 12-pack of Natural Lite on the counter. Will it impress him? Will he know I truly appreciate the balance of hops and water and more water?

Vinyl didn’t become popular with the masses until much later in my music-buying life. It’s now everywhere and I feel like a damned fool if I’m caught walking around town without a backpack stuffed with records. I buy vinyl that I am particularly fond of, but I still listen to digital files. I am not sitting in my den at night spinning records for David or anything. However, a lot of people — and not just music snobs — will tell you that nothing sounds as good as a record on vinyl. That might be true if you have a nice sound system. I do not. The only McIntosh you’ll find in my house is an actual apple. And my speakers are singular. The good news there is I only have one to replace. But I still appreciate the tangible quality of vinyl. I also think what’s particularly nice about an actual LP is that you are forced to appreciate the whole piece of art the way it was intended. Everything we do now is bite-sized. We watch snippets of videos, read headlines of articles without clicking and we listen to singles detached from albums. Without the album, though, you miss out on context. An album is the entire story. Vinyl encourages you to take it all in, to commit to more than five minutes from an artist. Sure, you can still skip songs and flip sides, but it takes more effort than it does when you skip some song you think you hate from one of my playlists. So, usually, you just let it play. And that’s when you discover that there’s a lot more to an artist than whatever single the label decided to push or your friend decided to put on your playlist. And, whether that’s Dave Matthews, Dave Mason or Dave Bixby, that’s a good thing.

Anyway, here’s a playlist of a bunch of singles that mention vinyl records in some form or fashion (or at least do if you squint). Tell us how we have no taste in the comments.