100 VINYLZ: The Introduction

My favorite material possession, if you can count it as only one thing, would be my record collection. It is the one thing I have accumulated through the wasteful spending of money that has given me the most joy, and the one thing that if I don’t mess around with for a while, I get all weirded out and need to just hole up with it for a few hours, immersing myself within it’s oddball variety. It has been alphabetized, but within the subset of categories at one point (I think the basic categories were “white people’s music”, “black people’s music sans hip hop”, and “hip hop” in it’s most categorized days), but nowadays is all sorts of hodgepodged and broken into parts. First off, when me and my wife moved in together ten years ago, we combined our records, which was more of a difficult situation for us to accept than us mixing our DNA into a child. Over the years, with there being no real set record playing part of our home, the precise alphabetization has long been lost. I used to have this wood shelf I took out of a rental house I painted years ago that all my records fit in for the most part, with a bit of overflow running into the bottom two rows of a bookshelf from Target. When we moved to this current house like eight years ago, I cut my record collection down from around 3000 to what would fit into the old rental house shelves (spraypainted black with gold trim by me) - roughly 1500 or so. Of course, it has grown since then, but there is no alphabetized nothing about it. At the far right or left ends of the two shelves, you can run into pockets of things still in alphabetical order, that obviously have never been played in five or six years, but for the most part, it’s all fucked. More than half of it is in the house on that shelf, but as I pull things from it, I push what’s left to the far left and right, leaving empty space in the middle, which I refill when too many records are left sitting out by one of the turntables (we have three working ones right now, but have had as many as five at a time in different parts of our compound for this or that purpose) and need to be returned to Raven’s vinyl homeland.
Except I do a lot of quality lounging out in the borrowed camper behind my house (which is where two of the working turntables are located, although one is a tweener, carried back and forth between the house and camper fairly regularly as necessitated by my own personal brand of mad scientifics), so a good amount of records are now out there, including just about all of my 7-inch collection (at least the ones with big holes that would work in the unfixed jukebox doubling as a hangerless coatrack in my unfinished hallway). So my shit is everywhere.
I have always been a budget-minded record collector, which is probably where the $20 record challenge came from. I do not go into a record store and think, “Oh shit, awesome, a $25 record I’ve always wanted.” I think, “Man, this sucks. I’ve always wanted this record and these faggots want $25 for it. I wonder if I can stuff it into my hoodie?” This is difficult, because record collecting is a very well-known faggot science now, and the sharp-faced guys who price records at used record stores are aware of this, and price accordingly. Also, the ebays fucked everything up for everybody, because if some schmuck in Illinois is getting $23 for his old Voivod War and Pain record, every asshole everywhere thinks they deserve the same $23 for their copy. Except that ain’t the way it works, at least not the way I think it should work. I have wasted tax return money once or twice buying things inside the ebays, but I’m too budget conscious, which means I lose most every auction unless it’s to some disreputable fucker from Australia who ends up ripping me off too. Plus, shipping is the jew’s magic touch to the ebays, and that’s where you make, or lose money, depending on your end of the globalized flea market bargain. I am to this day more of a “let me dig through the endless uncategorized crates of dollar records” type of guy than a “let’s dig through this well-labelled section of top quality records”. Music is meant to be used, not accumulated, and I would say a majority of what I still have is here for a reason, meaning it has use at one mood or another to actually be played. I do not deify the records, and through the years have used various methods of marking them as played or most recent. I used to have a roll of like 5000 little alien head stickers that I’d put the ascending number of and slap on an album side when I played it all the way through, and some of my records are peppered with these, like college football helmets. For a brief time, when I had a bunch of my old rapping 12-inch singles in the camper, whenever I played one I would put a silver Sharpie mark on the sleeve, like I was counting days in jail in an old western flick. All sorts of stupid shit like that. These are not keepsakes to sell later. The perfect example of that is the first MF Doom single, which I have on 12-inch, that Mike Dikk and John Dawson told me might be worth some money. I looked it up inside the ebays and it was worth some money. But I didn’t feel like selling it. Since then, it sat in a pile of records one time near where I had a Tupperware cat bowl for water and food in the camper because the cat was in heat but we couldn’t afford to get it fixed so I trapped it in the camper instead so it didn’t annoy us in the main house with it’s incessant cat-slut cooing. It knocked over the water bowl, which dripped under a sideways stack of records, and just a couple of weeks ago I was digging through them, pulled out the MF Doom single, whose sleeve was stuck to like a BDP single or some shit, and I had to rip them apart. The MF Doom sleeve is all mildewy, but the record is finer than fuck. I played it three times that night.
It’s funny too, because my folks had a good record collection (in fact, parts of mine are just sneaky embezzlements on my part when they split up when I was 16 and my dad lived in a trailer too small for too many possessions and my mom could give a fuck about all that fucking music my drunk ass dad always played), so I was always into records. I remember compact discs coming out (I don’t call them “CDs” because CD is a nickname and nicknames are for friends and I’m a giant hipster fag who thinks Mr. Show is hilarious) and some of my boys being all like, “Man, CDs will last forever but records scratch.” Except CDs felt like a transitory thing even then. I mean, yeah, 8-tracks died out, and cassettes I could envision dying out as well, but records had been around for decades. Compact discs were the same shape and idea, just digitized and mysterious, but in an evil way. Like Third World tribal religions are mysterious, but in a fun “shouldn’t kill me but even if it does it’ll be an awesome story” type mysterious. Compact discs had this ominious futuristic soylent green nature to them. I wasn’t down. And to be truthful, until I was 25 (which was 1998), I had stolen more compact discs in two burglaries than I’d ever bought, new or used. I think in ‘98, I used a fake name (C.R. McClellan) to join Columbia House, and that probably put me over the top for buying more than I had stolen, to that point in life.
Now, it’s gotten even worse, with MP3s (I couldn’t remember what that stood for, to further sell the Mr. Show David Cross as Allen Ginsburg character reference) and people downloading shit, CDs became obsolete quicker than fuck, but people became more removed from the music as something in their house. As opposed to a giant collection of records to look at and feel and peruse for whatever info you can, or better yet to cut the stems and seeds out of a half ounce bag, all your music is inside this tiny little robot that can just disappear. Or you can click a couple of buttons and make it all go away. I know dudes with like two and three external hard drives just full of music - a million billion gigs of shit they’ll never have a chance to listen to because they use all their free time acquiring more music. It is the new CD, because people can get it so easily, and now records are more relevant than compact discs. (HA! What’s up now, my boys from high school? I’m talking to you Dave Jenkins.) We are so far removed from our music as a part of our life, and it’s more part of the background clutter. Theme music has been replaced by ringtones... sigh.
For me, each and every record I have has personal experiences attached. How I got it, what happened while it was playing, what it’s been through with me... Shit, my record collection, during extreme bouts of self-created poverty, has suffered a number of genocides, wiping out entire genres or cherry-picking classics that I’ve missed intensely almost immediately after selling and ever since. The current record collection is almost a conglomeration of survivors - those things too important to me or lacking enough value to others to ever be abandoned into another weird fucker’s hands.
Well, what I decided to do was go through what’s left, what I have here and now, on my five acre compound of chaotic, blemished perfection, and compile this list of my 100 Most Valuable to Me Vinyls. It is highly subjective, and I could probably, once done, immediately do it again and it’d be entirely different. (And I do plan on revisiting this list again... in four years. My record collection always fluctuates and is far more important to me than some fake ass rich fucker trying to be my political figurehead, so I imagine this will be a good way for me to occupy myself during Presidential election years - sitting in my dilapidated camper with no TV and no computer, listening to old records.) But this is the list.
I will forewarn you though, I am going to be long-winded and highly detailed to an almost retarded personal extent. There will be no google searching or wikipedia consultations for historical facts behind the records in question. But there will be entirely too much information about myself, almost to the point of this being a memoir. Which is great, because I’d like to remember a bunch of this shit one more time. There will be no download links for you to see what I’m talking about musically, because blip blooping the sound wave patterns into your own personal robot won’t include attachments for the activities connected and the things that make it special to me and probably only me. That is your forewarning. And that is your introduction to my 100 Most Valuable to Me Vinyls for 2008.