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  • Writer's pictureAndy Ross

An Insulting Thing

I had a very good record-buying weekend. If you’re someone who collects records then you know that every now and then a particular unique cosmic event happens where you find several things that you’ve been wanting for a long time in short succession. The crown jewel of the weekend was finding an original 1989 pressing of The B-52’s album “Cosmic Thing.”

That album is extremely rare in its original release, and only in the last decade or so has new pressings on vinyl been released. Why is it so rare when it was the band’s biggest commercial hit? Because it came out in the days where CDs and Cassette Tapes were outselling vinyl dramatically. There simply aren’t as many copies in the world as say their first album. I’ve been trying to find a copy of “Cosmic Thing” on vinyl for close to 15 years. It’s the last of their original albums I don’t own on vinyl—except for 1992’s “Good Stuff” which was only released on vinyl in a few small foreign territories so I don’t count it.

As I excitedly drove home with the record I was feeling very elated. Not only for finally finding a copy of “Cosmic Thing,” but a large amount of delight over my love affair with music that’s been going on my entire life. Then, I chuckled to myself thinking about the few times in my life some normal/boring people have said something related to my musical library. Something that is the fastest way to make sure you’re never invited into my home again.

I love it when people ask to see my record collection. I’m proud of it. It’s a lifetime of music. My record collection is, at the most visceral level, not about the physical objects themeless per se—though I do see them as functional art—but about the music that’s on them. Vinyl is the most tangible way to get in touch with the music itself. And, to my ears, it sounds better! But the fastest way to get me to add you to a list of people who I’ll think less of and will quickly judge is to say one simple phrase when I show you my records.

“You’re never going to listen to all that, what’s the point?” This phrase, or an occasional variation thereof, has been said to me on at least three occasions. It’s always surprising to me after I’ve clearly beamed about my collection that someone says this to me. Sure, I’m not going to sit down and listen to every record I own in a marathon session—that would take too much time as I own well over a thousand records. However, I listen to at least one to two vinyl records a day on average. I sleep better at night knowing that should I wake up at 4:00 AM and need to listen to either Burt Bacharach or Devo on vinyl I can.

Sure, anyone can do this. Streaming right? Streaming has its place and I do use it—though I do want streaming to start paying artists more. But streaming feels like you’re renting the music. It’s not really yours. Vinyl? It’s mine. It’s mine so much it’s literally etched into the plastic. Besides my personal feelings about vinyl, there’s something else about saying that to me that’s annoying. It’s rude.

I don’t go into your home and say your furniture and wallpaper look like garbage? Why come into my home and say that something which is clearly a source of pride and joy for me has no value in your eyes? It annoys me. It should annoy you if I would show up and insult your kitchen. Why people think they have a pass for making a comment about my records is beyond me. But I’ll tell you one thing. It’s the quickest way for me to know who to disassociate with. See you next week.


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