Why do we collect records?

Chicago psychotherapist (and music fanatic) Dr Gerald Stein has some thoughts on the phenomenon. And a warning:

The next time you find yourself at a garage sale, an estate sale, or an antique shop, stop for a moment. Where did these things come from? The same thought might occur to you as you visit the vanishing world of used book and CD stores, or their virtual replacements on Amazon and eBay. There are only two answers:

The next time you find yourself at a garage sale, an estate sale, or an antique shop, stop for a moment. Where did these things come from? The same thought might occur to you as you visit the vanishing world of used book and CD stores, or their virtual replacements on Amazon and eBay. There are only two answers: (1) People bought them and the same people have decided they want to sell them. Some might be collectors whose interests have changed, others simply in the business of making a living or clearing space. (2) The children or heirs of the collectors are doing their best to get rid of the burden of “stuff” left to them.

 

(I thought we did it to impress the other sex.)

Read Dr Stein’s illuminating essay here.

Marilyn Monroe records

 

 

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  • Kiddrane says:

    A friend who was once a collector of vinyl records – someone I admired for having amassed over 10,000 albums (mostly classical) sent me the link to this blog. I am attempting to know why he felt it was important that I read comments made about an obsession. Little does my pal know – I would gladly sell off my collection as he did for the money. This is something I am not proud to confess. A collector is supposed to be proud of his collection. However, as my children will no doubt discover one day, the damn maintenance and space the damn things inhabit only serves to confuse the reasons for wanting them in the first place. Several years ago a couple visited my home and still feeling a semblance of pride for my collection – I showed them my albums. The husband responded by saying “you’re my hero.” His wife on the other hand said, “you must have nothing better to do with your money.” Which begs for the question, of record collectors how many are male and how many are female? There is most definitely a separation of mindsets related to collecting. I would venture to argue that as time passes, the need for space outweighs the appreciation for any collection. In a perfect world, this would not be the case. The passion for owning a specific album by a specific artists becomes a personal triumph. And then age creeps in to the equation – creating an actual mental evaluation of how much time and money has been spent on filling much needed space in your home. How many friends, relatives or neighbors can you actually share the collection with who would appreciate the effort? Record collecting in as much as we would like to believe is an admirable homage to our youth, or interests in a particular genre (I.e jazz / rock / classical) has no particular value in the grand scheme of life. I wasted more money than I could afford to throw away on my collection. I detest how the rich today choose to embrace a dead medium so they can purchase thousand dollar turntables just so every once in a great while they might show it off for a visiting socialite. If pressed, the art of collecting vinyl albums had their heyday and the newly pressed records that masquerade as new collectors items are insulting to the original reasons and purpose for wanting them when it was the only respectable medium. Since the advent of CDs vinyl collectors have been arguing about the sound quality being far superior.
    A most recent insult to the evolution of vinyl collecting took place when an artist I have always admired, in my opinion teamed up with Jack White to release a record made on an old carnival machine. Neil Young who was on a mission to release a new medium – touting the quality of the sound being massacred by CDs, goes and releases a CD made from a sound booth many of us recognized as part of our youth. The sound quality is horrible – however a statement is represented by the interest in the release of the album by Neil Young. (Also available of course on vinyl). The statement made is how novel the concept of music to our ears in the 21st century. No longer are records made to inspire or illuminate our senses, they are the modern day equivalent of bottle rockets being shot up in to the air comes the 4th of July. Songs light up the sky for a brief moment in time and disappear. Nevertheless, real collectors know that real music has staying power which will never again be equaled. Louis Armstrong’s riffs talking to Charlie Parker and Miles Days taking the sound to new levels. On vinyl even with the grooves slightly worn, the magic delivers as if voices from the past are telling us all to slow down. A few rock artists have made that same leap of faith in taking their music to heights no musicians or groups today can ever touch. Hidden on the shelves of any collector is an unknown anomaly; a time machine that brings back the where and when each record found it’s way in to our homes. Holding the records in our hands brings with it a priceless ticket on a journey less and less people care to take.

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