Do I Own My Record Collection…..

……or does it own me?


By some measures, my music collection is modest; by others, my stacks are small. To the uninitiated, though, I probably look like some kind of lunatic hoarder, my shelves packed with thousands of records, CDs, cassettes and 8-tracks. Yes, even 8-tracks. Sometimes I’m not sure whether my collection is a dream or a nightmare.

The beast began innocently enough during my preschool years with a few hand-me-downs from my aunt: Elvis, the Beatles, Steppenwolf, garage legends the Standells. In first grade I made my first purchase: a 7″ copy of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” Between the title and the rainbow on the MCA label I was sure it had something to do with The Wizard of Oz.

I was hooked.

From that day through junior high school my allowance went to the good people at my local Record Bar. When I entered high school I probably owned 50 records, and then I landed my first record store gig. Not only did we get a sweet discount, but promotional copies or “promos” were a perk of the job. By the time I graduated high school my 50-strong collection had grown to around 1,000 records.

“Most of my collection remained sealed in boxes in my parents’ basement, waiting for me to find my adult footing and settle down.”

More record store jobs kept me afloat into my early 20s, the promos and discounted purchases swelling my stacks. Most of my collection remained sealed in boxes in my parents’ basement, waiting for me to find my adult footing and settle down.

Eventually I did, and I paid more to ship the 15 cases of vinyl across the country than they were worth, but that wasn’t the point. These were my records, each with its own story: the Queen album acquired in a trade for a Ted Nugent record; the copy of Alice Cooper Goes to Hell that earned my mother’s disapproval; the Black Flag Loose Nut that I traded in a cruddy Bon Jovi album for.

I kept buying and patterns began to emerge — genres I really liked vs. the ones I thought I should like, musicians and labels that I gravitated toward, and so on. The discographies of my favorite artists filled in with exception to the hard-to-find rarities. The internet came along and solved that problem, provided I was willing to lay out top dollar for a Beatles “butcher” cover or a Public Image Metal Box.

My collection grew until it took over a room in my house. Down the length of one wall are six-foot-high CD racks. The opposite wall holds shelves packed with vinyl. The tapes live a Harry Potter existence in a cupboard beneath the stairs.

You can read the rest of this article by James Stafford on the Diffuser FM site here

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