One vaguely literary thing I have been enjoying recently is… music. But in particular: vinyl album covers.
Before I went to university twelve years ago, I took all the CDs I have ever owned out of their cases (leaving the booklets in the case behind, neatly packed in a box). I put the loose CDs in a carry case which has been with me ever since: when I moved to London with friends, when I rented my one-bed flat, when I finally bought somewhere of my own. Then my parents threw out the box with all the CD cases in. Not that it mattered, now most of my music is on my phone or my computer. I barely use the physical CDs any more.
Then, a few months ago, I began to realise that the way in which I consumed music had changed. I listen to songs or, worse, snippets of songs, on my phone. Skipping through tunes before they finish or, in some cases, have even reached the chorus. And so I decided to buy a turntable and a few classic albums on vinyl. There is a process you go through with an LP. First you take it out of its sleeve and place it on the turntable, then put the needle on the spinning disc, and then—and this is most important—you have to sit and listen to the whole side. It’s difficult to skip forward or choose a track; you have to listen to the whole thing. During this process of re-discovery, white I sat there holding the physical album sleeve, I rediscovered the poetry of lyrics. I know that you can Google or Shazam your way to any song with a broken lyric stolen from some nightclub memory clouded by vodka-Redbull and Jagermeister, but how often do you get to sit down and read all the lyrics to all the songs from an entire album? On The Beatles LP, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the lyrics to every song on the album are printed on the back. And they’re just wonderful.