Record Collecting Is About More Than Just Records

"I was listening to the radio
I heard a song reminded me of long ago
Back then I thought that things were never gonna change
It used to be that I never had to feel the pain
I know that things will never be the same now

I want to go back
And do it all over again
But I can't go back I know
I want to go back
'Cause I'm feeling so much older
But I can't go back I know"

~Eddie Money

I first got into music when I was around 10 or 11 years old.  It was sometime around 1974.   When I say "into" music, what I really mean is that it was around this time that I discovered music and started forming my own taste.

Like most other kids, I only listened to whatever came on the AM radio in our kitchen but I started noticing songs that I really liked.  Sometimes I'd wait and wait to hear a certain song and it seemed like they never played it when I wanted them to.

The thought of buying a record never occurred to me, after all, I was only 10 years old and didn't even know that was a thing.  I soon learned that not only was it a thing, but it was going to be a major part of the rest of my life.

When my mom had to go run errands or go grocery shopping, she dragged me and my siblings along.  I can't speak for my brother or sister but speaking for myself, I hated shopping of any kind and dreaded having to go to the store.  My only solace was that while there, I'd head over to the comic book racks and check out all of my favorites: Archie, Beetle Bailey, Richie Rich...they were all there.  Archie was and still is my absolute favorite.  This was back in the day when even the supermarkets would have 4 or 5 racks of comic books.  I could kill an entire shopping trip sifting through the comics and there were usually three or four other bored kids doing the same thing as their mom's were out and about around the store.  My Mom would come by when she was done shopping to "pick me up" and tell me we were leaving.  

One day while we were in Grants Department Store, I went to the usual spot where they'd had the comic racks and they weren't where they used to be.  The store had been rearranged and the comic section had moved.  I asked someone where they were and they pointed out where they were and stated they were now located next to the record department.  I hadn't noticed the record department in previous visits, but now that I had, I thought I'd take a closer look.

After reviewing the comic selections for that week, I wandered over to the records and I started looking at the 45's.  I realized then that they had all of the songs that I liked from the radio.  I didn't have my own record player yet, but my parents had the same set up as most families in the seventies: the all-in-one stereo / TV console and I knew I could play records on that.

I found the 45 for Paul McCartney's Band On The Run and my Mom let me buy it.  We picked a few more that day too and went home and started playing records and played them over and over.  As the next few years went by, I still found myself in the comic section more often but still frequently went to check out the records too.  But unless there was a song I really liked, I still spent more time with the comics.

Everything changed for me a few years later when I was in the eight grade. My music teacher that year was Mr. McDowell and he was a huge Beatles fan.  So he decided that we were going to spend a few weeks learning about The Beatles and their influence on music and pop culture.  He started out by introducing us to some of the classic songs and talked about their influence etc. but all I cared about was the sound I was hearing.  I was completely overwhelmed by what I was listening to.  The more I learned of their history and the more of their music I heard, the more obsessed I became.  When he told us the names of the four Beatles and I heard "Paul McCartney", I realized I already had a Paul McCartney record at home, which I bought a few years earlier.

I went home that day and told my Mom how awesome my music class was and that we were studying The Beatles.  She told me that she had a crate of records in our basement and she said she knew she had a Beatles album in there as well.  I found the box of old records (Mom was holding out on me!) and to be truthful (sorry Ma) it was all pretty bad.  We're talking Ray Conniff, Herb Albert and Barry Manilow here...but there it was: Meet The Beatles.  I brought it upstairs and my Mom told me I could keep it.  I played it over and over.  A few weeks later, we were visiting some family and one of my Aunt's had heard that I had discovered The Beatles. She told me she had a few old Beatles records that she no longer listened to and she told me I could have them.  She went digging around in her closet to find them and came back with these gems: 1962-66, 1967-70 and Abbey Road.  I had struck gold.  Three new Beatles albums and two of them were double albums!   I couldn't wait to get home to play them.  Now I was hooked.  Full on obsession had taken over and I just had to own every Beatles record that I could find.  I took a book out of the library about the Beatles and wrote down every record they'd released and kept that as my "want list".  The first of many "want lists" I'd have over my record collecting life.  It's now nearly 45 years later and those Beatles records mean as much to me now as they did then.  

But the Beatles were just the beginning.  I started branching out from there. I  had read an interview that John Lennon had done sometime in the seventies and he was talking about his musical influences and how much he loved Chuck Berry.  So now of course, I had to hear this Chuck Berry guy.  Next trip to the record store I see a "Best of Chuck Berry" collection and I buy it.  You know how this one ends right?   I soon discovered Little Richard, Ray Charles, of course Elvis and Buddy Holly.  Over the years, it was John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin' Wolf.  That lead to Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.  It just kept going. 

What is my point to all of this?  When looking back at my record collection I realized that collecting records was so much more than just buying music to listen to.  Of course that was the end game, but it was about so much more.  My passion for music lead me to work in a local record shop in my town during the entire decade of the eighties.  I got to spend my days hanging out in a record shop and talking to (and sometimes arguing about) music with my coworkers or our regulars.  When I watched the movie High Fidelity, I swear I felt like I was watching my own life during that time.  Back then, record shops were places where people would hang out, and we all shared a passion for records.  I even met my wife in a record shop.  

Back in the eighties, my friends and I would go to every record convention that we could find here in the Northeast where we live.  We'd pile in the car early on a Sunday morning...hit a drive through for coffee and junk-food breakfast sandwiches and head out for a full day of record hunting.  On the way home we'd talk about everything we'd found and if we were smart, we'd have saved at least a few dollars for the ride home so we could hit another drive through.  There was usually one of us that was dead broke after the convention because they needed every last dollar to get the last Lou Reed record they needed for their collection but we'd spring for them knowing that next time, that's going to be one of us. 

When I started The Mad Apple Shop, I did so because I wanted to create merchandise and designs that would appeal to people like me.  Fans and hobbyists that want to be reminded of days gone by.  Days when collecting Dead tapes was still a thing, and you spent time looking for old Blues records at flea markets and record shows. Back to the times when you'd be driving somewhere new and couldn't drive past a record shop without stopping to check it out. That's what Mad Apple is about to me. 

I miss record stores.  I miss having a cool place to go where the people working there were often there because they were just like you: they loved records. As much as I enjoy my life now,  I'll always remember those amazing days gone by. I often think of the great line in the TV show The Office, when the character Andy Bernard said "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days, before you've actually left them."  So true.

Music today is a download. It's soul-less. It's just another electronic file on a device full of electronic files.  I'm sick of electronic files and I'm sick of fancy devices.  The only fancy device that I really want right now is a time-machine so I can go back and do it all over again.


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