If you collect records, you have to make peace with a certain degree of misunderstanding. Upon seeing your collection proudly displayed and alphabetized, people often demand to know, “Do records really sound any better?” or, “They actually still make those?” or — my personal favorite — a nice, succinct, “But why?”
Dog owners are also well-acquainted with the unique brand of confusion a person tends to face when they choose a lifestyle that favors experiential depth over convenience. When I brought home my first dog, I received a healthy dose of skepticism; I’d just graduated college, had relatively little to my name except a stack of vet bills, and my nights of going out to make exciting (albeit poor) decisions until 3 a.m. were suddenly null and void. With newfound purpose and a needy puppy that I couldn’t bear to leave alone for a minute more than I had to, I was learning to take life slowly.
Lo and behold, despite what I had given up, life became more beautiful. The joys of new rituals — quiet morning walks, falling asleep next to my dog on the couch, the sound of paws scrambling on the hardwood floor to greet me — began to replace the more fast-paced thrills that were quickly forgotten. As a long-time record collector, I had some practice in making sacrifices in pursuit of seemingly small things that amount to a life well-lived. It’s likely for the same reason that a large portion of the staff at the heart of Vinyl Me, Please (VMP) — a Denver-based “Record of the Month” subscription club that exists to experience music more deeply via the medium of vinyl — also happen to be dog owners.
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“Todd loves a good romp around the park, but he’s the king of the living room and appreciates the routine of our morning walks, breakfast, followed by his six-hour snooze,” says Courtney Catagnus, Director of Digital at VMP, about her nine-year-old Lab mix. ”Music nerds like myself also love the ritual of creating their space at home to relax into — watering the plants, lighting the candle, jostling the chair into the perfect position, pouring a drink, and selecting a stack to suit your mood — all in preparation for those moments of solitude with your record player. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that around the same time I adopted Todd, I started building my record collection.”
In an era where you can listen to nearly any song, album, or recorded sound from the last century for just $9.99 a month and the click of a button on your phone, who could fathom dropping three times that amount on just one album? Vinyl records take up space in your home, are irritating to transport, and require special equipment and care. To those who haven’t fallen in love with the tactile joy of dropping the needle on wax, records are often written off as an amusing novelty at best, and a silly luxury item at worst.
I invite you to imagine the grey, suffocating blandness of our lives if we did everything for the sake of ease and instant gratification. Even in a world of Soylent, Uber, and an infinite catalog of Top 10 Cutest Dog Video compilations on YouTube, most people will choose a slow-cooked meal, a long walk with no destination, and the warmth of a dog at our feet over any of the former alternatives, given the time and means to do so. When it comes to what nourishes our most basic desires, it will always be the tangibility of what’s in front of us — that which we can feel, hear, touch, love and interact with — that reminds us the true exhilaration of being a human in this world. This is what dog people and vinyl people share.
“They are both a part of my life because I never, ever have to wonder if they will be there for me when I get home after a bad day,” says Jesse Pavlovic, People and Operations Manager at VMP, who has a 16-year-old Lab/pointer mix named Cabo at home. “I need those cuddles and those sound waves to envelope me. Both do it with no question and unconditionally.” Whether the folks at VMP are listening to bubblegum pop while playing with their 10-pound Boston terrier on the floor of their bedroom or enjoying the reggae soundtrack of a day in the great outdoors alongside their massive American bulldog, they’re living proof that a dog and a good record can be all you need to squeeze every last drop out of each minute that’s been given to you. In fact, a recent article from Harvard Health, “Mindfulness and your dog,” suggests, “Perhaps one of the greatest psychological benefits of interacting with a dog is the opportunity it provides to be more mindful — to purposely focus your attention on the present moment.” The intentional act of caring for your records, selecting one to listen to, and using your hands to place it on your turntable presents the same opportunity, and a similar reward.
Lloyd Starr, VMP President & COO and owner of Zappa, a three-year-old cattle dog mix, cites various aspects of his own interest in mindfulness that predispose him toward a love of both dogs and vinyl. “For me, this means being as present as possible, building richer experiences in both listening to music and playing with my furry friend.”
We all have our reasons for bringing dogs and/or vinyl into our lives, despite the expense and inconvenience. Maybe you view your pup or your record collection as a tool to keep yourself in the now, and feeling a warm tuft of fur on your cheek or hearing the crackle of a record needle gives you that serotonin hit you need after a long day. Not everyone understands, but the staff at Vinyl Me, Please certainly does. Like them, I’ve learned through experiencing both of these small joys that anything that pulls you further into the moment at hand proves its value countless times over.
Ready to start a collection yourself? Check out vinylmeplease.com
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