Vinyl and foreign TV: attentive, not pretentious

Around two years ago I realised the reason my parents' record player had fallen out of use was down to lack of interest, not function, and so I suggested that for my seventeenth birthday we got the thing in working order and listened to Jimi Hedrix on vinyl, like I did some twelve years beforehand.

A college friend - who's built up a track record for incredible present purchases - bought me Bombay Bicycle Club's So Long, See You Tomorrow for my seventeenth and so I listened to this instead. Though I've begun to build up my own mini-collection*, I've not yet listened to any of my parents' old vinyl.

Believe me, I'm well aware that purchasing current albums on vinyl in 2014-6 seems incredibly pretentious, but there's method in the madness. Maybe it would help to include that I've never purchased an album solely digitally, I've always been one for hard copies and CDs, so perhaps I was doomed to be swept up by the vinyl revival of the twenty-first century.

Around the time I learnt of our record player's functionality, I read an article about why Steve Jobs (inventor of, y'know, the iPod) only listened to music on vinyl (sidenote: maybe this is why iTunes is so difficult to use - he wanted to dissuade people back to hard copies). It's because music on vinyl means you listen to the full album, and you generally focus more.

When it comes to Spotify, around a quarter of songs are skipped in the first five seconds, and nearly half are skipped before the song ends (source). I know I'm guilty of this.

With music on vinyl, you don't have that option unless you've got a real dedication to lift and adjust the needle a lot. As a result, it ends up consuming you, and you listen to the record in one go. Of course, you need to flip the record mid way through, or several times if it's split over several discs. Either way you get ten to twenty five minutes of solid music.

I'm noticing my attention slipping when it comes to TV and film, too. Several weeks ago I had to watch the same twenty minutes of The Counselor three times to get what was happening, and even then I gave up. I wasn't confused; I just wasn't focused on it.

I found the same thing happening with Sherlock a few days ago, and Beowulf last night. I got it a lot with Game of Thrones' first series. Last night I saw dozens of people on Twitter - whilst I wasn't watching War And Peace - going on about Deutschland 83, so I decided to watch it.

I didn't use Twitter once. I couldn't. Reading subtitles in case you miss one key point of information draws your attention from everything else. For the quarter of an hour slots between adverts, I was totally focused on one thing, which is a surprisingly refreshing feeling when you're usually multi-tasking.

Some people will gladly say that if it can't be said in 140 characters, it's not worth saying, and whether they mean this literally or more figuratively doesn't matter. With busy lives and instant access to everything, people's attention spans tend to shrink. Note people who "live tweet" TV, gigs, football matches, theatre, etc.

There are more reasons why I watch foreign TV and listen to music on vinyl, but don't think it's because I'm pretentious. It's nice to be effortlessly consumed by something every so often - even if only for twenty minutes.

*Mini-collection as it currently stands (in purchase order) -
Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long See You Tomorrow
Ben Howard - Every Kingdom
Deaf Havana - Old Souls
Twin Atlantic - Great Divide
George Ezra - Wanted On Voyage
Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart
Brand New - Deja Entendu
Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Public Service Broadcasting - The Race For Space (I bought this for my dad so it's half mine)
Fatherson - I Am An Island
Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit


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