Vinyl isn’t dead.
That is remarkable, on so many levels. Digital is better than analogue. So we are told. When CDs came along, the days of vinyl were fast running out.
Then, with the advent of digital music delivery and iTunes, surely analogue was finished. We’d entered the digital era.
I think there’s a parallel with digital and analogue in how we live our lives. It’s now possible to be connected all the time. It has never been easier to work excessively in this always-on age. With the increase in competition, how can we afford to switch off? At all?
The challenge for a freelancer like me is that the more I work the more money I earn. Why shouldn’t I work more, and harder, and more efficiently (plenty of self-help books promising to assist me in this)? Wouldn’t it be madness not to?
It’s all very digital thinking. And I’m not sure it’s very healthy. What about down-time? What about the mundane? Of course, if you are very successful you get rid of the mundane by paying other people to do it, and there’s no real downtime because you are always connected and can fill in the gaps by getting your phone out.
I am guilty of this, and I don’t think it’s terribly healthy. We humans are analogue by design, not digital. I’m not rejecting the digital, though. Always-on allows me to do my job. In terms of music, subscription services like Spotify and Deezer open up a whole catalogue of musical discovery that’s quite amazing.
But it requires discipline and wisdom to navigate the new now and stay fully human: to remain analogue. Discipline to not fill all the moments; to leave space; to have down-time. As an aside, I’m also not a huge fan of the headphones culture, even though I love music. Listening is part of being present, and it surprises me when I see people taking a walk or run somewhere natural and beautiful who aren’t also listening.
So, how does this apply to wine? I think wine is one of the few products that is still widely made on a human scale. That’s because it relies on grapes, and vines care about where they are planted and top vineyards are usually quite small. Family businesses often make the best wines. Despite all the modern technology that’s available to winegrowers, there are still plenty of cellars that use traditional techniques. The best wines are analogue not digital.
It’s reassuring that vinyl isn’t dead. It’s reassuring that Moleskine notebooks and ink pens still exist. It’s reassuring that people still buy books. Analogue is human.