I, like some 600,000 other people, bought the new Mumford and Sons record last week. It’s good. I like it a lot, actually. (In other, somewhat related news, I also bought the new Grizzly Bear record last week and- at the risk of repeating myself- it’s good. I like it a lot, actually. But that’s not important, for my purposes here.)
As per usual, I chose to purchase the hard copy of the M&S disc. I enjoy purchasing albums in physical format. Call me crazy (or call me maybe), but I just don’t like purchasing music from iTunes. At all. It seems too… well, it just takes all of the fun out of the process for me. I feel about buying a record like Kurt Vonnegut does (well, did) about mailing a letter. His wife used to chastise him for not just buying a roll of stamps and keeping envelopes. He, in his irascible way, could not understand her exasperation. After all, the process of mailing the letter- of walking outside and running into people he knew who would stop him to chat, of experiencing the weather, of getting to stop for coffee and hearing a good joke or story- is the stuff that, for him, life is made of.
To Vonnegut, it’s not just mailing the letter that’s important. It’s the experience and process of.
I love going to my record store and buying the album. I love having Stacy or Travis or Robert (actual names, thank you) not only know my name and recommend new things to me, but also having them open my purchase for me so that on the way back to my car or work or wherever I’m going, I can look at the liner notes, see the artwork, etc.
It’s not just buying the record that’s important. It’s the experience and process.
The liner notes of the album are mostly populated with lyrics, but there is also the occasional picture of the band- both in the studio and on stage. Seeing these pictures greatly unsettled me. I actually felt disturbed, if you can believe that. But I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why.
After reading a very interesting article on Grantland (if you’ve not read them- you ought to!) which can be found here, I realized why those pictures so unnerved me. It’s a question, you see, and one I’d like to present you with in the hopes that perhaps you, dear reader, can provide some clarity, some reason, some rationale.
Just how in the blue fuck did Mumford and Sons become a band who can SELL OUT arenas, who can sell 600,000 copies of their album in the first week of its release without gimmick, gag or special sale?! They nearly DOUBLED Justin Bieber’s album’s sales! They’re a folk band, right?! A FOLK BAND! WITH A BANJO! As if being a folk band wasn’t enough, they also sing- pretty blatantly, I have no qualms reminding you- about G-d!
Maybe it’s the British accent or, as Amos Barshad postulates, marrying Carey Mulligan. Either way, it’s a pretty neat trick.