I was discussing with a fellow hifi nerd (sorry audiophile) the merits of CD over vinyl and during the discourse he happened to mention that he was firmly in the digital hi-fi camp and had sold all his vinyl, 400 albums or so, about 10 years ago. This reminded me and caused a certain melancholy to descend as I thought back to the day I sold my beloved record collection.
There’s a saying that there comes a point in any man’s life when he must leave childish things behind and that’s partly the reason I sold my collection. I was Djing at the time, owned a record shop and had around 3000 bits of personal vinyl, a similar collection of second hand vinyl in the shop that was mine and a shed load of new stuff to boot. Our first child had just been born, we needed to leave the town we were living in and I needed to move on to a point where I took a bit more responsibility for my life and that of my partner and our son. I suppose then that selling the records marked a right of passage for me: It signified in a very real way the transition from childhood (I was twenty seven) to adulthood. I also sold at the same time the shop and any means of playing vinyl and was left with just CDs and tapes.
I used to occasionally search online for records I used to own and I could buy a very nice car for what they are now worth, but it’s not the monetary value, nor the pittance that I sold them for, that makes me overcome with nostalgia and regret. Records aren’t just bits of plastic with a couple of grooves printed on them. They are much more than this.
Records and the songs they hold are our friends. They were their the first time we got drunk, the first time we went clubbing, the first time we lured a female of the species back to our rooms. I can still remember notes I made on record sleeves about beats per minutes, which track to play and the style of music. If someone mentions a tune that I used to play I don’t think of the music itself, but I will know what colour label it had and what the sleeve looked like and where to drop the stylus. I can remember what record was delivered to my door the day the boys in blue thought it would be a good idea to kick it down (“Smells Like Teen Spirit” remix on the Klone label) and I can remember the day I bought “One More from the Road” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, dropping the needle onto the start of the groove and the specific feeling the record gave me.
Little by little I’m slowly rebuilding my collection of past friends, but it’s not quite the same. They’re not the same friends. The pop and the clicks aren’t in the same places – I used to frequent a rock pub in my mid teens where the juke box had a well worn copy of “Hotel California” on there. To this day, every time I hear that record being played, I still mentally playback the click where the record sticks and repeats one word over and over and over until someone kicked the jukebox and every time I am immediately transported back to pints of John Smiths, hippies, rockers and hells angels in the back room of this seedy little pub. The sad thing is I don’t think I will ever replace all the vinyl I sold and you know what, I don’t even know if I should try…though I’m giving it a damned good go. Anyway, I’ve got a good deal of the stuff on CD now…but it’s not quite the same is it! I really can’t see middle aged blokes in 25 years time reminiscing about their CD collection or collection of zeros and ones on their hard drives.
So what’s the moral to this story? There isn’t really a moral at all to be honest. It’s just a rapidly ageing bloke reminiscing about past friends, friends that are now lost never to be replaced, or perhaps to be replaced with bit perfect facsimiles of themselves.
If you wake up one morning and you think the time has come to move on and sell your vinyl record collection then my advice is to pull those covers back up over your head, close your eyes and leave it to another day far, far in the future.