If you’ve just joined us, I’m reflecting on a bunch of things I like to do. This post here explains why.
Today: record shopping. I like buying records.
The important thing to notice is that I didn’t say that I like listening to records, collecting records or owning records – although those are, of course, things that I very much enjoy. If I really think about it, the activity that seems to give me the most satisfaction is the process of acquisition. The time spent browsing, rummaging and discovering second hand vinyl – and usually cheap stuff.
I guess that’s largely because I’m always immersed in music, and the records I buy simply get absorbed into that mix and take the aggregate experience in new and interesting directions. I certainly wouldn’t be short of stuff to listen to if I didn’t go record shopping – but I do really love going record shopping.
It’s relaxing and exciting at the same time – simultaneously meditative and engaging. Like I imagine knitting would be if there were spot prizes.
I love finding gold in the £1 bins. Old jazz or blues records, rare soul and funk, 80s post punk or reggae… anything that has meaning to me. To me, that kind of serendipitous discovery is the real pleasure.
Wherever I go, I love to visit record stores. For me, that’s one of the highlights of travelling. If it’s the right kind of store, just leave me there. I’ll be happy all day. Often, I’ll spend the price of a cup of coffee or two. Sometimes, I’ll discover a whole armload of records I can’t bear to leave behind. I’ll never leave empty handed, though sometimes I will leave empty-walleted.
Of course, eventually I play everything I buy. It takes a while, but I’ll get through it.
Right now, I’m taking an iPhone photo of every record I play at home in its entirety. Here’s the set of January records so far. 90% of them cost £1 or less. And all of them are exceptionally good records that I enjoy very much – though the price is reflective of the contemporary popularity (or lack thereof) of much of the music I like.
It’s all cool stuff, though. Music you would almost certainly like if you heard it. Typically – though not exclusively – it’s laid back, funky or classic jazz. Not stuff that sells in massive quantities, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can get a real find on a pretty regular basis. There’s no shortage of great music recorded between the 1940s and 1970s.
And it’s all stuff you want to rush home and play. This is a soundtrack for living – crackles and all.
That said, I don’t mind if long periods go by without being able to sit down and listen to records. I do mind of long periods go by without being able to go into a record shop and dig for treasure – or at the very least find something interesting online.
So if I’m going to be paying attention to spending more time doing the things that I love this year – more time rummaging in record stores is on the agenda. Not a new year’s resolution as much as it is a barometer of how I’m doing this year on the ‘quality of life’ front. Record shopping is right up there in my list of things that cause me to be contented. I intend to spend as much time as I can (though ideally a smaller proportion of my income) doing that in 2014 as possible.
More things I like to come…