I didn’t set foot in a record shop on Saturday. Partly this is because I had other things to do – we’ve accepted an offer on our flat, so house hunting is occupying our every waking moment (and many of our sleeping moments, too). This also means we’ll be living frugally for the next few months so we can afford all the new stuff that will have to fill a bigger house (not even exciting frivolities like chairs and “console” tables – but essentials like ovens, and beds, and washing machines); this will curb my record spending for some time. But that’s OK, because there are about 2,000 CDs in our house as it is (dozens of them never listened to, and dozens more not listened to enough), and it’ll be a nice experiment to explore what we already own for a while.
Also, as I’ve written before, there aren’t really any record shops left in Exeter, apart from the increasingly depressing and bereft of music HMV; I think there are only Rooster (old vinyl) and Reform (baseball caps and DJ bags) left, and neither have ever done it for me.
And, frankly, after last year, when I did make a trip to the (frankly excellent, and expanding) Drift Record Shop in Totnes, I feel like some of the sheen has come off Record Store Day. There was a push this year to prevent opportunists buying up the limited edition releases and then ebaying them straight away for profit, but it didn’t seem to work – my timeline was full of frustrated record store evangelists moaning about things being on ebay within a couple of hours of shops opening. It sullies the point, which is to celebrate a love for music, isn’t it?
Or maybe it’s just to celebrate one way of acquiring one format of music. I’ve never been a vinyl fan, and I’d never describe myself as a collector. I have no truck with object fetishisation when it comes to music, no urge to own limited edition vinyl box sets or seek out rare and out of print records. I bought the Radiohead 12” last year, and played it once before sticking it in a frame on the wall, because the colourscheme went with our backroom. I’ve listened to the two tracks plenty of times, but as downloads via my iPhone, not by sticking the vinyl on the record player. I’d have listened to them even more if I’d been able to buy them on CD.
Twitter alerted me to interesting blog post about Record Store Day, object fetishisation, and Marxist cultural theory, which was fun to read and reminded me of being an undergraduate. It perhaps delves too deeply into name-dropping people like Adorno, and using gatekeeper-ish terminology like “heteropatriarchial” (which is pretty decipherable by cultural theory standards, but still needless obfuscation for what is actually a pretty simple concept), but I think it’s bang-on in terms of raising questions about authenticity and consumerism and gender issues with regards being a music fan and all that sub-cultural guff about being “a better music fan” than someone else just because you own a 12” by a band you don’t even really like.
I buy records in record shops a lot. Just because I didn’t on Saturday doesn’t make me less of a fan.