Spinning Vinyl at the Four Seasons NYC, Baby

Spinning Vinyl at the Four Seasons NYC, Baby

By Erica CampbellJun 03, 2024

From a rapper’s grandiose penthouse delight to the sleaziest dive bars spinning vinyl, PAPER is giving you a first-hand look into the Big Apple’s most hype-worthy music experiences in Seriously, What Are You Doing?— straight from the music editor's mouth. Are you or someone you love feeling restless in the city that never sleeps? Here’s what you should be doing (seriously!).

Weeks before the Four Seasons Orlando baby took over the internet, this music editor checked in for a stay at the Four Seasons Downtown New York City.

Somewhere in Tribeca and eons away from the dives where I typically spend my Fridays, I strolled into the Four Seasons with the clothes on my back and a large dose of naivety over the splendors I was about to experience. As the elevator passed the main floors and then more floors — and then even more floors — I knew this would be no average hotel room situation. When I stepped off the elevator and made my way to the double doors at the end of the hall, my suspicions were confirmed: I stumbled into a full-on, five-star, New York City apartment home with an avocado-shaped bath, a shower doubling as a steam room, absolutely insane (see: fabulous) city views, a massive oakwood table that forced me (I had no choice) to pretend I was in an episode of Succession, and, for one night only, me.

Witty, sharp banter about taking over the family business aside, I was here for one reason, and one reason only. To explain said reason we’ll have to time travel a bit (but not too far) to the middle of the pandemic lockdown, the Sout, and a woman with an oversized record collection and a dream.

You’ve guessed it, said woman with the dream is also me. But back in 2020 and 2021 when I ran away to South Carolina to hide from the pandemic (and my itsy bitsy, teeny weeny East Village apartment with no windows in the living room) I had one respite I’d take when my freelance money stacked up and I needed some alone time after forcing my family to live among my empty cans of La Croix and political debates that nobody, even if they tried, could agree with (I’ve got a penchant for being contrary). When those times peaked, I’d pack up a rental car with my favorite records and a record player and drive 30 minutes to Savannah, Georgia, where I’d stay in a hotel for a week and listen to my music and pretend the pandemic was over while I danced in a small but comfy room (preferably with a deep soaking tub).

That’s when I learned that music was my sanity. If I could hear my favorite song crackling and clear under a record player needle (see: The Killers’ "Spaceman"), it wouldn’t matter where I was; I was myself. Not a girl who had brought all of her belongings to her parent's house and eaten all their groceries and taken over her sister’s room (did I mention I love you guys? I love you guys!) and spent the hours in between writing and doing yoga and meditating and listening to more music. Having my records made the hotel room a home. Maybe the kind of home a woman who had a future she was sure of would live in. The kind of home someone who was successful, badass and bright would call her own. So yes, I’d check in to a hotel in Savannah with my heavy bag and oversized record player and set it up like it was my own place and (probably upsetting the people beside me who were too trying to find a quiet giveaway) I’d blast my favorite tunes. Over the lyrics of Ray LaMontagne's Trouble, I could feel myself coming back.

Fast forward 2024 and so much has changed — and yet much has stayed the same. Luckily, while sitting next to the books ornamenting the towering shelf against the wall of the living room of this Four Seasons apartment/suite, I saw it. A record player. And I didn’t have to pack it up with a bunch of my albums and drive an hour away to play it.

My fingers separated the albums quickly as I gladly noticed they were worn-in and well-played (as they should be). Later, I learned they’d been sourced from local record stores and vintage haunts, and I felt even closer to the city that I decided to call home. That’s when I pick up an album I hadn’t heard in full since I was in College: Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black.

As you may know, dear reader, if you’ve been here a while, I’m a big believer in synchronicity, happenstance, the great connectivity that brings us together. Sitting there that Saturday morning, golden light streaming through an apartment Id lounged around in to an extent that it felt like mine, Winehouse’s words — clear, crisp and crackling — took on new meaning. I could hear the love, the heartache, the talent and the wisdom that would always be beyond her years, even to hear death. Sure, you don’t need a five star suite to hear a song to that level of transparency — but sitting there in that room, a bit wine’d, very dine’d and super relaxed (shout out to the bath salts), her voice rang out clearer than it had when I first heard it. A couple of weeks later, I’d be visited by her ghost again, first as I watched the documentary Amy and second through a biopic premiere. Look: I’m not saying that there’s magic in listening to music in luxurious spaces, I’m just saying that it doesn’t hurt.

So here I stand, freshly more in love with an album I once heard as background noise, relaxed and appreciated, all because someone thought to put a record player in the Four Seasons living room I checked into. If that’s not enough to make you put a record on (or check into a place that’ll put one on for you) I don’t know what is.

Photography courtesy of Four Seasons and Toby Tenenbaum