Sometime last year when I was first exposed to Princeton Record Exchange, I had a moment of dissonance as I attempted to figure out exactly why I wanted to be buying records in the first place. From the very beginning of my serious interest in music, I have always been unconcerned with the particular format the music comes in, and more interested in whether the music itself is worth listening to. I eventually settled on a combination of buying things I knew I liked and would also, by extension, like on vinyl--this trip including Murmur, Highway 61 Revisited, Electric Ladyland, Remain in Light--and things which I would probably not buy but for being able to get them inexpensively--1999, T. Rex's The Slider, Scritti Politti's Cupid & Psyche '85. I'm not sure there's any explanation for my slight preference for vinyl that can't be best explained by the fact that the stereo attached to my record player is the best I've ever owned, and that I listen to albums at a louder volume than anything else. Louder, clearer presentation over multiple speakers is better because it separates the elements--it allows you to hear things you otherwise might not, and get a better sense of how the whole fits together.
The funny thing about this situation is that even when I'm playing Murmur or Highway 61 Revisited, as much as I love those albums, I have a very hard time concentrating on them. Murmur has easily clear a few hundred listens since I first bought a CD of it in 7th grade. It cannot ever be new for me again, nor can it be something that doesn't have the accumulation of many different significant personal moments of appreciation (Murmur's actually an odd case here, and Dylan's better, because Murmur is often antiseptic emotionally). And on the whole, this transition, which has affected a large number of my cultural experiences, seems to be beneficial: I used to identify very strongly with something because it spoke to me, but it didn't speak to me in my sense of well-being or identity, but rather in those parts of my life that seemed unsettled. There are not so many of those anymore. What remains is instead an increased appreciation of how and why those moments once landed like they did: the technical elements that make the emotional ones transcend simple manipulation, that raise a work into something that can outlast the initial flash of inspiration. Which is just to say all that stuff Hemingway talked about.