Reflections on a Record Collection

Posted: 18/06/2013 in Ramblings
Tags: , , ,


Somewhere within the heart of this writer, without a doubt, dwells a mostly dormant obsessive compulsive disorder. In moments of personal trauma or existential despair, however, refuge is first taken in the organisation of his record collection.

It is likely this very proclivity that holds responsibility for the genuine sense of horror and moral outrage provoked by this article, in which journalist Sophie Heawood confesses to the cardinal sin of having thrown away her entire music collection.

That a human being might actually possess the capacity for idiocy required to commit such an atrocity genuinely tests the boundaries of belief.

Now, this feature is by no means a refutation of the Buddhist-leaning idea that freedom is to be found in the relinquishing of possessions. No one ever really looks through their photo albums and a Kindle full of digital copies of books is undeniably superior to a heaving bookcase playing host to squads of dust mites beasting their way through the musty, yellowing pages of books long since neglected in university.

Such wise logic, however, has to have one exception.

Even to the mind of a relatively spritely – at least in terms of devotees to the physical manifestation of works of musical art – 26 year old, one’s record collection serves as nothing short of a window to the soul and the ongoing piecing together of the soundtrack to one’s life amounts to a spiritual quest.

Every significant moment, and every extended period of insignificant moments, in one’s life doubtless has a piece of music attached, or at least loosely linked, to it and the retention of tangible evidence of those pieces of music is as close as it is possible to get to retaining the times themselves.

A true record collection should be such that any outsider – whether casual browser or intrepid and discerning explorer – ought to be able, merely through the observation of this one compilation of recorded media, to trace the genesis of the proprietor’s very character. Just as the parental advisory stickers should symbolise turbulent teenage years of adolescent angst and the demos of long-defunct local acts of dubious talent should evoke memories of rashly enthusiastic purchases guided by youthful exuberance, the retrospective box sets and imitation vinyl singles collections should allude to more recent moments of unflinchingly reckless nostalgia.

The more discerning eye should be able to pick out, and question, albums bearing the tell-tale cracks and abrasions of a year spent being passed around from schoolbag to schoolbag, by way of a dozen CD re-writers. Awkward conversations should arise regarding naively scrawled declarations of affection on the interiors of booklets. Nods of appreciative respect should be granted upon the discovery of multiple copies of the same release, distinguished only by the addition of bonus tracks or limited edition artwork.

Ageing men should totter on the precipice of episodes of violent rage when their offspring’s unskilled and reckless pawing of their records sees faded concert tickets spilling out of album sleeves.

Such libraries of cheerfully misspent existences should also, of course, be complete in the truest sense, never exuding the sort of pared-down appearance resultant of that other distinctly odious music-related misdeed, the removal of the “embarrassing” artefacts. Granting someone access to that most personal of accumulations can only register as the gesture of trust it deserves to if it comes with the proverbial warts ‘n’ all.

Never trust a music fan with a seemingly perfect collection; chances are the bastard has a B*witched single stashed in the confines of a Neil Young anthology.

In a world of supposed instant gratification, increasingly throwaway encounters and cheapened joy, the record collection stands as testament to one of the few remaining sincere and pure pursuits – a genuine labour of love. Holding onto a collection of memories that serves to illustrate the development of the self is a sure gesture of faith in the worth of the future.

Throwing away her whole record collection…

Jesus Christ, hen!

  1. Stewart, Robert (UK Prestwick) says:

    Colin ain’t gonna like the “ Ageing men “ comment mate !!


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