I am setting out to write about one of the records or CDs in my collection every day for as long as I can. I have a lot of records and CDs and I keep buying more. So I doubt I shall ever 'finish' by writing something about everything in my collection — but if I were to, it would take me several years.
Do you still collect music? Do you find yourself accreting it almost mechanically: four parts habit, one part devout love? This hobby of ours has been building to a crescendo for fifty years. Now we're faced with digital formats and services that promise more music than ever. Yes, I want that &mdash but the promises also threaten to make our painstakingly curated collections look puny and even a bit clumsy.
I have a few hours' worth of digital-only music in my collection, but I'm not sure if I'll write to you about it. It feels like the cassettes that I still keep under the stairs used to feel: convenient to take with you on car journeys, but liable to become unplayable over time, and valuable mainly for the few gems and rarities that I don't have on CD or vinyl (which are better for 'proper' listening).
I'm not interested in writing reviews, but something more personal. I want to tell you the stories and the feelings that my albums are wrapped in, how they are woven into my life. I hope occasionally I may pique your interest in music you didn't know or had forgotten. But mainly I'm being self-indulgent: engraving the stories, the feelings and the music deeper in my mind and my inner ear.
Not that every part of the collection is loved and cherished, mind you. Some of it is the result of more-or-less random accretion rather than careful curating. When it comes to buying, I've had flush years and skint years. I'm going to select each day's record or CD at random from the collection, and I know there are many there that I've forgotten and barely listened to — gifts, freebies, some mistaken purchases, and a few that got little attention because they just arrived at the wrong time.
I know you never liked Laurie Anderson much, but in one of her songs she quoted that story about an angel looking back at history as a pile of debris. The angel wants to go back and fix all the broken stuff, but a storm keeps blowing the angel into the future. In a jaundiced mood you might see my record collection as a 'pile of debris', and I know I'll never succeed going back and trying to make sense of it all while more stuff keeps adding to the pile. But that's the way it is since — this'll wind you up — in the story, the storm is called Progress.