Music Collecting Used to Be Fun
My favorite LP-hunting story takes place in a Lower Manhattan store sometime in the 1980s. For several years I had been looking for The Compleat Dancing Master, a compilation of English Morris dance tunes charmingly mingled with spoken-word material. The only copy I'd ever seen was an unsealed one and I wanted a virgin sealed copy. So there I was in this record store, when a guy walked in and asked the manager if the very album I was seeking was in stock. The manager said yes and I went into a collector's frenzy. I had one advantage over the competing shopper--I knew what the jacket looked like, with its distinctive graphics against a hunter-green background. I began scanning the tops of the rows of LPs, looking for a slim stripe of hunter green. It took me less than a minute to find my prize, a sealed copy with a price sticker that read $2.49 (a lot less than online prices today). As I took it to the cashier, I made no attempt to lock eyes with my vanquished rival. Actually, I was half triumphant for my accomplishment and half embarrassed for my greed, if the truth be known. But I still remember that day whenever I see that hunter-green spine on my shelves. Perhaps we live in a better world now, a world where shoppers needn't compete for collectibles because downloads can reach vast numbers of people if the artist is lucky. But this item remains hard to find in any form--and downloads are never this much fun.