Recent posts on the subject by mrsmartian prompted my thoughts and caused this to come out-
Earlier this week I received an email from my sister asking if I was interested in having her record album collection. She mentioned that her household now used Compact Discs exclusively. I suspect her two teenage kids are primarily responsible. Up until I reached my teen’s and was able to buy music for myself, the only records we had were my parent’s small collection of 45’s (Elvis, Everly Bros., Glenn Miller, Little Eva, Ink Spots, Jackie Wilson, The Coasters and a few others). I initially followed their example and bought a few singles but very quickly switched to LP albums. Summer jobs which gave me some cash to spend and membership in the now defunct ‘Record Club of America’ allowed me to shop via mail since no record store existed in the immediate vicinity and having a drivers license was only a dream. I still own every album purchased starting when I was 13. Most them in what is normally described by the used record business as VG+ condition. (pristine, as if they were brand new in many cases) Time for a confession. Yes, I was/am a vinyl addict. A “collector”if you will. From day one touching each album only on the edges or the center paper label. Never turning the paper sleeve ‘sideways’ in the cardboard cover so you could just tilt it and have the record roll into you hand. Only storing them ‘upright’. Learning through experience not to loan them to anyone. The instance I still remember most was loaning my copy of Uriah Heep’s ‘Look At Yourself’ to my best friend only to find the “mirrored” album insert sitting in his bedroom trashcan when I visited soon after. Reassembling and collecting what he had borrowed, I never said a word but just returned the albums to where they belonged on my bedroom shelf never to leave again. My collection rapidly expanded once I graduated from college and had a full time job. The combination of having disposable income and moving to a large college town(Tallahassee-FSU) with several used record stores where students would frequently cash-in their record collections for beer money was to me, heaven. My wife even tolerated my habit. She always commented when I returned home with an armload of albums- “I see you got your vinyl fix.” New albums were also purchased mainly from ‘sale’ or ‘cut-out’ bins when I found something I just absolutely wanted.(believe it or not I’m a fiscal conservative). If you saw the movie ‘Diner’ from years ago think back to the character who collected records and was, in my opinion, very anal with his ‘filing’ method. I’m not that bad(I hope). Based on quantity of albums alone, I’m far from being a big time collector such as the Rob Gordon character played by John Cusack in the movie ‘High Fidelity’. But I can still dream. One such collector, a person I have known from childhood, had a turn-around in his life when he “got religion” and decided to sell off most of his albums for next to nothing. Now living 400 miles apart, we still communicate, but we don’t seem to be able to talk as easily about music as we did so enthusiastically for years.
So where is this headed? Music is important to me but I’m not a Hi-Fi snob. The equipment I use to play music is secondary to the feeling and emotion I enjoy while listening to music. Over the recent years, an ever increasing number of Compact Disc have ended up in my collection. Once again, the technical argument about albums having a “warmer” sound as compared to the “brittle” sound of CDs was lost on me. Probably because I’ve pounded my ears for so long with massive amounts of Black Sabbath at high volume while wearing headphones that I couldn’t tell the difference if I tried. I associate many ‘events’ in my life with the music I was hearing at the time. Music as a soundtrack for my life is a reality. I can go to my collection, select an album and experience a little nostalgia.
Years ago my mother gave me several small boxes containing all those 45’s I mentioned earlier. They are on the table next to me as I type this.
Now my sister wants to give me the soundtrack to her life. She offered to wrap ribbons around it since my birthday was this week.
Without kids of my own, I’ve often wondered who will end up with my life’s soundtrack when I’m gone.