Our favorite music industry blowhard is, of course, Bob Lefsetz. Everyone who’s anyone in music reads Bob’s missives (or as many of them as possible while still having a life). Sometime Bob posts multiple times per day via his email list/blog. The amazing thing is how often his opinions are on target and well written. Unfortunately his output and ego are so enormous that when he misses, it’s cringe inducing. He also goes through streaks where his ego driven opinion blinds him to common sense, logic or reality. This is all magnified by the sheer length and high-octane word count of many of his posts/articles. That won’t stop me from being a fan though. Some of those moments are cringe inducing, but his writing is beyond great, and like a deadly car crash in a high-speed chase, it’s still entertaining and hard to turn away. Bob has a fan-base that reads like a who’s-who of music royalty and he loves to name drop. It’s entertaining and we can all be a part of it by reading, and even emailing him.
Bob recently had a post called “Bugging Me” (yes, he’s that obvious in his role as curmudgeon) where under the heading “The Vinyl Revolution” he stated, “It's a hobby. Like stamp collecting. Albeit with a lot more press. Just because you spinners are yelling at the top of your lungs that does not mean the rest of us care. While you're at it, why don't you bring back dial telephones, typewriters, cathode-ray TVs, pagers...” Sometimes I wonder if he really is being that bothered by this, or if he’s trolling for reactions. I think he’s trolling, but I’m not going to lash out, I’m just going to point out…why he’s so off base and on the wrong side of this one. Bob’s credo (when it suits him) is that the industry failed and is always failing because it won’t embrace new technology and trends. I agree and truly believe that is a correct statement. The problem is that he carries that opinion like a club through an antique store trying to kill a fly. Oblivious to what is right, true or good.
The album as a work of art is now lost on him, and many others. It’s great to wax poetic about how music moves you, but what about that experience on the headphones when you listened to your favorite album all the way through while studying the jacket, lyrics and liner notes. Do you want to know one of the reasons no one can stand to listen to music for the entire length of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” anymore? It’s because of the digital format. But you can listen to an entire concept record like The Wall on LP while looking at the nice big artistic double gatefold album and reading the lyrics without ear fatigue…if you own it on vinyl and are playing it on a turntable. Can you do that digitally? You can try, but digital music causes ear fatigue and you better own a great monitor and have very young, healthy eyes to read along staring at your monitor for that length of time.
I get the fact that the pops and clicks scare away some folks from vinyl, but if you keep it clean it’s cool, and it is much more listenable because it’s analog. Sorry Bob, comparing vinyl to the rotary phone is not accurate. The rotary phone was in no way better than phones today, except maybe for the fact that it may not have caused cancer and didn’t need a battery. At any rate, an album is an art form that includes the packaging and the lyrics, not to mention being able to listen all the way through on headphones is a big plus. Why criticize people who appreciate album art and packaging? Nice to know you don’t care about that, I’m just surprised because I really thought you would. I also think the majority of your readers do care about the album as a format and the album as art. I do and I am proud of it. Is it a hobby? It can be and I think record collecting is a great hobby. I find it very odd and perplexing that Bob does not think it’s a good hobby. Is his point that it’s a fad so why should anyone care? Well, it’s a “fad” that’s outlasted and been around longer than all other formats. Will it supplant the singles driven digital market? No. But come on Bob, seriously, is anyone claiming that? No one that I know of is remotely making that claim. I don’t hear any one claiming that it’s the future of music delivery either, so why the negative post? Why are you against people saying how great vinyl is? That’s what the majority of people I respect in this business think. It promotes the album as a whole work of art; it encompasses packaging with room for more art, lyrics and liner notes than any other format, and has a warmer sound that is more natural to the human ear. I love iTunes and Band Camp and downloading new music, but I am thankful for the vinyl revolution that is keeping the album as an art form alive and well.
I encourage you to subscribe & read Bob’s blog: http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/
(Most of the time) it’s amazing. For some reason he doesn’t get why some people like the vinyl. Weird.