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- The good news is that I'm feeling much better, largely due to killing my bronchiti with whisky - highly recommended! The even better news is that I think I have just bought my 4000th album - a copy of Secret Treaties by Blue Oyster Cult. I say, I think I have, because I don't rigorously document the collection, and the last time I properly counted it was earlier this year, but I'm fairly certain I've crossed that important threshold.
When people see you have so many records, the first thing they ask is 'do you play them all?' The answer, of course, is no. It'd be impossible, and anyway, some of them are rubbish! I reckon I play 15-20% in any one year, but that's to miss the point. A record collection isn't merely about playing music - though that is very important - it's about just having the records in your life. In the same way being in a library gives you pleasure, being surrounded by 4000 records just feels really nice. It's just very comforting.
Records are not just a product, they're culture, history and music all rolled into one thing. They're bookmarks in the constantly changing seas of life.
It's remarkable the degree to which the interest in records has grown in the past few years. They were for so long disregarded as outmoded and old-fashioned and we were laughed at for even keeping them on our shelves. But not any more. Even people who don't collect are fascinated by them. I get such a big response when I post pictures of my collection online.
Here's my pet theory as to why this has happened. I think, after the banking crisis of 2008 and the subsequent economic slump, people started to want physical things that they could rely on. They essentially wanted a more analogue existence where things are solid and you can hold them in your hands. It's part of a reconnect to a more simple, basic aesthetic. When your music is on a cloud where is it, really? It's not in an actual cloud, it's on a hard drive somewhere. There is simply no romance or soul in that. It doesn't feel warm. We're physical beings and we respond to physical things. CDs are too small and plastic to evoke a strong response. They too feel cold. Records are perfect. They're an optimized delivery method for music that is not likely to be bettered. Will your CDs work in 50 years? Will your downloads still be playable in 2066? I know my records will.
And you know what's even nicer? A record collection goes on forever. Even when I die and it's broken up and sold off, someone else will buy it and play it. The story will go on. The records are just temporarily ours, eventually they'll be someone elses. I love that. It's fundamentally unselfish and open-hearted.
So here's to the next 4000. I'm not stopping now!