I download a lot of music, like a lot, and not in the legal way (shhh). It’s just so easy to go on a torrent page and type in an artist/album, and within seconds, have that music at my finger tips. Last year, after owning one of the crappiest record players known to man (thanks for nothing Urban Outfitters), I finally bought a solid player from U Turn, based on the recommendation from a fellow Rochester music blog.
Once I got my player/receiver/speakers finally step up (which was another headache in its own right), I started to put a conscious effort towards building a small record collection. I began with some of my all-time favorites: Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It In People, Wilco’s Being There, pretty much any Radiohead, but after that, I kind of just stopped. I would spend hours walking up and down aisles in shops like Record Theatre and Spiral Scratch with a handful of records ready to add to my collection, but I would always leave empty handed.
It’s not that I didn’t want them. These were albums that defined my life, lasting memories of landmark moments, but after years of acquiring music for free, why would I drop $60 or so on a collection of tunes that is already on my computer and iPhone? Money is tight for me (state employee problems), so do I go grocery shopping for enough food to last a week, or do I make a serious dent in my bank account and stock up on vinyl? The answer, at least in the early days, was the former.
I grew up in the era of CDs and cassettes, plastic items that cost next to nothing that I had to replace just as often as I bought them. My dad, while being a big music fan in his own right, didn’t pass down boxes and boxes of classic vinyl to help build my collection like many of my friends. Records really meant nothing to me outside of an excuse to drop $20 on something that I could have been listening to on my phone while browsing already.
It took me a while to realize that owning a record meant more than just something to fill up my shelf. I don’t own any of the music on my computer, at least not technically. I didn’t pay for it; the music is just there and could be gone by just dragging the file into my trash bin. But a record is a tangible item, something you can hold and feel, something that carries memories and history with every spin (hardly a groundbreaking statement, but work with me here).
With this realization, my collection has begun to slowly grow, turning into something I am quite proud of. It will never be one of those massive, carefully sorted collections that High Fidelity made famous, but it’s mine and I love it. I can pick up an album and know exactly where I was when I first heard it, the emotions that fluttered across my mind upon its first spin. Hell, this past weekend alone, I bought four records, so I am certainly making some progress. I guess Wegmans will have to wait until the next pay check.
So on Record Store Day this Saturday, you will probably see me timidly browsing the aisles of all of the local shops, most likely avoiding the gimmicky releases, while I continue to chip away at my list of memories until they are all mine, in the flesh, well, vinyl.