I am a collector of, among other things, books, comics, action figures and Beatles memorabilia. In recent years, I started collecting LP records.
My record collecting journey began in middle school when my dad gave me all of his LP records. They had been in storage for over 20 years. The albums were by many of the artists I have grown up listening to, such as The Beatles, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac and more. Once I was in high school, I finally got a turntable. It was an exciting Christmas tearing into a neatly wrapped gift to reveal a brand new turntable! Finally, I had a way to hear the music I had grown to love. Also, that Christmas, I was given my first record, “Disintegration” by The Cure.
Record sales have had a boost in popularity in recent years. According to Pitchfork.com, “Over two million vinyl LPs were sold last week, making it the biggest vinyl sales week since at least 1991, Billboard reports via MCR Data. The total 2.11 million vinyl albums sold bested the 1.842 million LPs sold during the week ending December 24, 2020.” This is a great example of the fact that physical media is not dead.
Now, I still listen to music on my phone; music is always in my ears when I walk to class or do work. But I do not feel I am an active listener of music on my phone. When I put on a record, I want to actively listen to the song. I want to discover something new about it. There is a level of anticipation when I take the LP out of the sleeve and put it on the turntable. As the needle drops into the record’s grooves, my excitement builds up as the song starts. More often than not, message and meaning seem to come together when listening in this way.
Looking for records is also part of the fun of collecting. I enjoy flipping through the different records at Barnes and Noble or Lagniappe Records and admiring the album cover artwork. The best part is when I find that record I’ve been trying to find for ages or just browsing and discover something completely unexpected.
One of my favorite vinyl acquiring memories was when, at Barnes and Noble just browsing the record section, I came across one of my favorite albums, “Heaven or Las Vegas,” by the Cocteau Twins. The moment I found it, my eyes just stared at it for a minute because I could not believe what I held in my hands.
When you are a record collector, you always seem to find other collectors. I have made some of my closest friends by bonding over our shared love of music. Having conversations about what our favorite pressing is or sharing tips about how to preserve our records. Sometimes you strike up conversations with complete strangers in the record stores. It is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and talk to new people.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sit back and enjoy the music.