Record collecting has never been my thing, and I’ve been pretty content with that notion until recently. There’s a very real culture alive these days, as record sales have seen a significant boom, even in the age of the mp3. It reminds me of an interview I read a few years ago with Jonny Greenwood (Super Guitar Genius of Radiohead) which I thought hit something head-on:
SFJ: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of the MP3 age?
JG: The downside is that people are encouraged to own far more music than they can ever give their full attention to. People will have MP3s of every Miles Davis’ record but never think of hearing any of them twice in a row—there’s just too much to get through. You’re thinking, “I’ve got ‘Sketches of Spain and ‘Bitches Brew’—let’s zip through those while I’m finishing that e-mail.” That abundance can push any music into background music, furniture music.
I think we tend to take music for granted when we can have all of it. It’s so easy to turn on a playlist and tune it out for hours. I’m guilty of this at times, though I also always select my music carefully and I do try to keep an ear on it. But recently I’ve been going to my friend Anna’s apartment, which is small and cozy, and she’s always playing records. In a small cozy room, records give off a very warm and surrounding feel. I was instantly smitten. I think they’re really great for sitting in a room and listening to. So, recently a friend was selling all of his records for pretty cheap and I snatched a bunch of them up, thinking I might finally give this record collecting thing a go. The thing that feels intimidating to me is that it’s hard to find certain albums you really want (I’ve never seen any Smiths or Joy Division records out in the open at a store, and you’re not likely to come across them for sale from a collector either) and it becomes a pretty expensive habit. Furthermore, I don’t even own a record player.
It’s in the cards, of course. I just have to build an environment where they’ll sound the best. Jesus, what a whole thing it turns into, right?
There is something so wonderful about being able to hold a record, and at times it can become a display piece in its own rights. The above photo is the cover for New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies. It’s my favorite album sleeve of all time, right after Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures [Peter Saville. My Design God. Look him up]. I’d even go so far as to say the music is second to the artwork. And now I have it, and even though I had the CD and I can listen to the remastered extended release on Spotify or wherever, there’s something really special about having it displayed.
You could say I’ve converted.