CLEVELAND — When I walked into the plant where vinyl records were being pressed, I had a flashback to the days when I hurried to a record store to buy a song which the radio disc jockey said was "climbing quickly up the charts."
The smell of vinyl reached my nostrils as I walked through the doors of Gotta Groove Records in Cleveland, and I was immediately placed in a mental time machine whisking me back to my earliest days as a rock and roller. I am still a rock and roll lover, even though my hair is grey and I am not as fast afoot as I was in the 1950s and 1960s when I was buying music at a much quicker rate.
Gotta Groove Records is turning a million copies of records per year. It has been in business for 10 years.
"We caught a wave with vinyl," said owner Vincent Slusarz. "We thought it would continue and that's exactly what happened."
Slusarz worked as a lawyer before he went into the record-pressing business. He said he had developed an interest in records, but the "trick" was finding presses. He found them in New Jersey and shipped them to Cleveland, where he operates out of an old building on the city's Superior Avenue at E. 36th Street.
When he spoke of reasons vinyl records are rebounding, he said much of their return to use has to do with human psychology. Slusarz said humans want to "touch" the music they hear. Streaming music does not lead to that. Slusarz figures listeners want to actually touch a record, feel the grooves in the final, and read the liner notes. None of that can be done with music on a stream from an electronic device.
As he spoke, I reflected on the soundtrack of my own life. I remember the first vinyl record I bought. I paid about 90 cents for "Since I Don't Have You" by the do-wop group The Skyliners. It was the late 1950s and the teenage girlfriend I thought I had decided we were no longer an item. I cried about her deciding we were no longer a junior high school item and found the Skyliners hit song expressed my feelings.
The girl with whom I danced to rock and roll music is now probably celebrating life with her grandchildren. However, the 45 record I bought to help dry my tears over our teenage break-up is still here. Yes, it has a few scratches in the groove because I played it so much, but most of the sweet sounds which the Skyliners laid out on vinyl are still there.
I have gone the CD route because for years, it was the only way I could buy the music I loved -- rock and roll, jazz, classical, blues. But I celebrate the idea of the return of vinyl because it is more tactile; I can touch it better.
As I write this story, I have "Since I Don't Have You" on my computer. Those wonderful words and music are in my ears right now. But when I get home from WKYC-TV, I will put the old 45 on the turntable. (Yes, I still have a turntable which works)
Across the country, record companies are buying vinyl again. So, too, are bands which want to sell their music at their live concerts. There are about 30 vinyl-pressing companies in the U.S., 15 more than when Gotta Groove Records of Cleveland got in on the ground floor in 2009.
In the 1970s, one of the popular expressions was "groovy." I don't know if the word grew from the grooves of vinyl records, but the word was popular. Decades later, that's what I'm saying about the return to vinyl. Groovy. Vinyl has not pushed other formats out the door, but vinyl is rattling the doorknob.