2003 Year End Thoughts
Lisa Oliver
Losing and Regaining Records
2003
10



i lost my record collection this year. That was pretty much my defining moment for 2003. I experienced that split second, when fear dissolves into fact, which then morphs into despair. And it was bloody awful. No, awful isn’t accurate. Gutting is more like it.

I have been working as a music journalist for almost 3 years now. I fell into it as a total lark, as I have no training in journalism. Hell, I’ve never really taken a writing class. But somehow, I got a break and here I am. My original strength, besides being female, was my unadulterated, non-tainted by industry/muso/hype take on journalism. I wrote because I cherished music, not because I thought it would be a cool job. I prided myself on not only refusing to be swayed by the hip elite, but also that any money I earned was just play money for me. This wasn’t my real job; it was a hobby that I got paid for. Yeah!

However, slowly but surely, I fell into the trappings of hype, free records and comped drinks. I started to think not in terms of what the music meant, but how it fit into the context of the next cool thing. And worst of all, I started to resent buying stuff. Why would I want to buy stuff when I could get it for free? And if I couldn’t score it, well, it wasn’t worth hearing. Every show I saw, even ones I wasn’t working (but still seeing for free) I couldn’t help myself from figuring out an angle for them. I started to think of music as work. It became very difficult to just listen to something…to just sit there and listen to it purely and plainly because I wanted to.

It began to remind me of when I worked at my university’s record store. Again, you gets tons of free shit and you get pretty wrapped up in the hipster elite world of music know it alls. I would work all day listening to music, ordering music and talking about music so when I would get home, the last thing I wanted to do was hear fucking music. I began to lose my devotion to it, lose my visceral need for it. After I stopped working there, I went into a weird music vacuum, refusing to listen to anything but soul and R&B; made before 1972. I did that for, gosh, a year or so? Cleansed my palate though, and I eventually got excited about rock music again.

Well, as much as I hated to admit it, this year I was getting jaded again. But since this has bitten me before, I recognised the signs. So last time I was home, I decided to visit my vinyl vault. I left all my records with my mom when I moved to London since it was going to be far too costly to ship them. I went to go have a look for them and I couldn’t find them. I didn’t really know how to react, so I did the natural girl thing. I cried. I asked my mom and she didn’t know where they were. So I upgraded to sobbing. Then I began to ache as the crystallization of the reality started to form. I had lost my past, my memories and what it meant to need music. Never again would I see those Joy Division records my first big deal boyfriend gave me. I wouldn’t see all the Cocteau Twins records I had painstakingly collected and stored in plastic sleeves. A Flaming Lips album, chosen for me from the private collection of the first guy that broke my heart. The Specials, My Bloody Valentine, Husker Du, my clear vinyl 7” of “Touch Me I’m Sick”, Bruce Springsteen or my sole 10” record (grey marbled Urge Overkill)… all gone. Regardless of the fact that it could never be replaced, what mattered was what it represented. It represented me. My emotional life. It wasn’t, as my mother said “just some records”; it was an aural history of heartache, utter joy and most importantly, moments that defined who I became. And from this tragedy, came epiphany. I still loved music. It wasn’t work; it was life. My life.

I called up one of my friends to weep about this and he said, “Lisa, I have your records”. I thought he had only taken a few, but he bleeding took the lot of them. For a flash I was pissed off. Then I was relieved beyond belief. They were okay! My records were okay! And to top it all off, I got to not only rediscover all of them, all over again, I got to rediscover my love of music, all over again.
Reviewed by: Lisa Oliver
Reviewed on: 2003-12-30
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