I’m about to piss off… everyone… and that’s ok. For Christmas, my lovely girlfriend got me a record player, a fantastic gift. I broke into my grandpa’s old records, like Charly Pride, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings. It gave me a feeling that I’ve never felt listening to any of these guys before, which made me realize something. All country music has a place in our world, but modern artists sound way better on modern technology, and older artists sound better on vinyl.
I said it, I love Johnny Cash, but Justin Moore sounds better on my phone than he does. That isn’t a knock-on Cash; it’s just how music was produced now versus the past. An artist from the 1960s sounds better on vinyl because that is how music was consumed. When I put my grandpa’s records onto the record player, it creates something that can’t be mimicked on an iPhone. It is a feeling that I have only had a few times, walking into Fenway Park, old Yankee Stadium, and I would imagine the feeling of going into a place like Wrigley or Dodger Stadium would be similar. It’s a feeling of history, knowing where you came from and how you got to where you are now. It’s an appreciation of the past as well, feeling the spirit of the souls of past country artists. Johnny Cash played mostly just a guitar and based his music on that.
Today there are electric guitars, and drums, and other instruments used in country. If you’re a traditionalist and you’re reading this, I’m not sorry because it’s true. You cannot genuinely appreciate older country music if it isn’t on vinyl. I wondered why I wasn’t the biggest fan of artists I wanted to like, and now I realize why. It’s 2021, and we have artists and sounds that weren’t even thought of in the 1960s, and they can’t compete with modern-day production. To further save a little face, I bought “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison” and Luke Comb’s latest “What You See Ain’t Always What You Get” simultaneously on vinyl. I love Combs album, but it didn’t even hold a candle to Cashs on vinyl. To flip the script, though, Cash’s album played on shuffle on my phone didn’t feel the same, and Comb’s music still rocks.
I want to preserve traditional country as much as the next guy, but I don’t think telling people my age that they are stupid for liking Luke Bryan is the answer. Sitting down with someone who truly appreciates the genre and giving them a record player is a way to go. I have found a place where the outlaws of the past will live forever; it just might not be on my phone.