Most of us are probably old enough to look back fondly on our days listening to music on vinyl. Pulling a record out of its sleeve and gently plopping it onto a turntable was an event. Fastidious audiophiles would clean the precious disc of any lingering dust or fingerprints before dropping the needle on it. 

The contact between the stylus and the vinyl is a physical connection, announced with a satisfying thump. A tiny needle rides the tiny grooves on a record to transmit vibration through a series of wires, producing warm sounds that delight our ears. 

This organically rich experience satisfies in ways that listening to music digitally can’t. The tactile engagement we experience when pulling out a record and carefully placing it on a platter is lost in the modern world of streaming services. 

Typing “Led Zeppelin” into a search bar and instantly hearing Plant and Page erupt with “Kashmir” isn’t nearly as romantic as physically pulling out a precious disc from Physical Graffiti. Zep’s double album had a lavish presentation, with die‑cut windows of a New York tenement building that revealed various images and words depending on how its inner sleeves were oriented. 

Rubber-Side Down March 2024 Vinyl Countdown Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti
There is a romantic nostalgia that connects humans with vinyl records and air-cooled Harleys. The same can be said for print motorcycle magazines
American Rider November 2023 Cover

Today, our immediate access to almost every song ever recorded feels cheap by comparison, almost disposable. On Amazon Music, I don’t even need to touch anything to hear a song of my choice. I just ask Alexa to play one, and she dutifully responds by spitting it out at my whim. It’s fantastic – marvelous even – but the trifling amount of effort needed makes the experience feel chintzy in comparison. 

Holding a magazine in your hand is akin to handling vinyl records. Both require corporeal interaction, an engagement with physical material. Immersing yourself in stories seen on beautifully laid out pages is similar but thoroughly different from doing so on a website. 

Online content can be published daily, and we encourage you to subscribe to so you can stay abreast of all the latest news. But what you see on web pages – any web pages – doesn’t undergo the thoughtfulness of crafting the designs that are seen in a magazine. 

The majority of American Rider readers are subscribers to our digital editions, and I’m sincerely grateful to have you along for the ride. But we also still have a loyal cadre of readers who appreciate the gratification of pulling out a printed copy of AR from their mailboxes and setting aside some time away from the digital screens that are omnipresent in our modern lives. Keep your copies on a bookshelf, and they’ll be within hand’s reach for years to come. 

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get up to put on Side Four so I can fill my ears with “The Wanton Song.” The physical involvement required will connect me with music I treasure and provide a semi‑profound audio experience. There’ll be a few crackles and pops as the stylus digs into the vinyl, but they will enhance my satisfaction.

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