Why do I go to such lengths to collect records? I could quite happily endure 30 minutes of squat burn, knelt down in a thrift store digging through the bargain 10p box if at the end of it I come out with a sole 45 to add to my box.
Even when I’m left fruitless, I still persevere and continue my hunt. I will go to the next store, and repeat the squat challenge, between people who find me rude knelt uncomfortably so that they cannot walk by and those people who pity my scavenging, as though I have nothing better to do with my time. This is my time, this is my choice. They will not be the ones laughing when I find what I’m looking for. The thing is, I could even venture home empty handed but I would do so with a massive grin on my face – safe in the knowledge that I conquered those stores and those record boxes; if I didn’t get it, then nobody did.
Why do I do this when I could go home, in the warmth with a cup of tea and play Spotify where a whole catalogue of music is readily available at my fingertips? To some extent, it is about owning music. But for me, if it was just about that then I would want to go directly to the musicians and ask for the record from them because they certainly do not get royalties from the stores I visit.
Is it because I like the dig and thrill of the chase? Yes, mostly. Because it is exhilarating finding something you weren’t expecting and you have that power of ownership. It also gives you a reason to dig. That elusive 45 that is almost within reach at every flick of the record in the box. If you didn’t find it in one box then you will in the next. The main reason I endure he dig is for that feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when I find something beautiful. It’s a long lost treasure, where the map has been ruined and I have no idea where lies the cross. It has a story, it’s been gone for years and no one has had a clue where it has been hidden. I’m the pirate out to steal what I can before anyone else. Captain Sounds me hearties call me. When you clutch that record, a small 7″ of vinyl with the dusty sleeve (when it is lucky enough to have a sleeve), then it’s time to step back on the ship and listen to the record whilst searching for other lands to dig in.
There is never a question of ‘are you going to buy that?’ Of course I am. I know before I ask the store attendant how much the record is, that I’m willing to pay about the highest bid because it took me the time to find that gem, and I got that feeling.
This weekend I took 2 buses to a record store, the one in the picture. The first time I visited it was once, almost 3 years ago. I couldn’t find any sign of it still being around today when I was searching online so it was a massive punt for me. I ended up spending £23 on records, and more importantly just under 2 hours digging through boxes stacked under more stacks where I was in my element. I knew in part what I wanted to find, but I also found a bunch of records that I had subconsciously catalogued in the back of my mind. For almost an hour in the store it was just me and the Saturday boy – who was digging through a box of records to play on the shop player. We spoke only to say “have you done with that box?”
Shop keepers in records stores do not ask you if you want help. They know you don’t need any help in finding what you want. That’s why you’re there, to do the digging. They provide the materials you just have to sort what it is you’re looking for and I’m thankful in part, that I’m never sure what that is.
So, why do I go to such lengths to find records?
Because no one else will do it for me, nor should I want them to.