Like most of this generation, I’m sure you either have Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora or some other type of music streaming app downloaded on your phone. But, before any of these services ever existed, a popular way of listening to some of the newest hits was through vinyl records! 

I’ve had the privilege of hearing friends and family share their memories of the magical experience of owning a physical copy of music, like these special albums. Even though each generation has been exposed to very different music platforms, every listener from the varying time periods have all described this type of musical encounter as ‘one of a kind.’

Baby Boomer – As vinyl records first flew onto store shelves in 1931, the baby boomers were the first generation to grow up with their fascinating abilities. My grandma had hundreds of albums surrounding the built-in record player in her house. 

For hours, she would sit in her living room and listen to the “full” and “warm” sound it produced. 

“When I was little, I used to think the singer was inside of the record player performing for me,” she said, laughing. 

Well, that would certainly be a cool concept! 

These records continued to be prevalent in the future of everyday life, especially for my grandfather who worked as a DJ at his college radio station and would choose which vinyls to play. 

Generation X – “It was physical, it was personal.” 

My mom was excited to share her fond memories of her record player days with me. Each birthday and holiday, the excitement of adding new albums to her collection was always there. 

“It was more than just a song, you would have the vinyl cover that had the cool album art and sometimes a poster that came in the package. For me, there’s a different feeling from going to the vinyl store to buy a new single versus just downloading a song from iTunes.” 

Generation Z – It’s not common to have a teenager in this decade invest their money in a vintage process, such as vinyl. We grew up in a time period where we have the privilege of being able to listen to any song in the world at just the touch of a button. 

So, when asked why a record player was this Gen-Zer’s chosen form of musical entertainment, the prominent factor was the ‘personal connection’ it gives off. 

“It’s interesting and kind of nostalgic, even though I never lived in that era,” my good friend Maddy told me. 

Putting on a record even just to clean your room or scroll through social media, gives you the opportunity to “enjoy your favorite artists’ music in its entirety.”

If any of these stories instilled even the slightest bit of curiosity within you, you’re in luck. 

Just a seven-minute walk from the Fairfield University Bookstore on Post Road stands the Vinyl Street Cafe. This homey store has a selection of all musical genres, from 80s rock to Broadway musicals. 

Tuesdays through Fridays from 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., you can relax, order a drink and listen to some tunes while you search through the hundreds of disks that are available for purchase. Prices range from the $2 bin to $50 new releases. Of course, the vinyls are only half of the musical equation. The Vinyl Street Cafe also sells record players that vary from $80 to $200. 

This tangible, personal and nostalgic feel that accompanies the use of vinyls and record players brings an experience to music listeners like no other. While it’s convenient to stick to the monthly subscription and plug in some headphones, I highly suggest that you invest in this hobby of the past, and make it one of the present. 

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