Not far from my Cognitive Hypnotherapy practice in Twickenham there is an excellent record shop. Records were very important to me. When I was young we had a choice of listening to music in the following ways – on the radio, on record (albums, 12” singles, the odd 10” EP, and the ‘single’ at 7”). The only way to compile music was to buy a blank cassette and record your favourites. But for me it was vinyl records. As the years passed I let go of some of my vinyl. Not deliberately but moving countries, the promises of the new format CD, the element of storage all contributed to moving completely to CD.
And then it came back into my life, as it has seemed to for so many people. I found some of my albums and singles and bought a record deck to play them. I could listen to vinyl again. It sounds different. It feels different. When I listen to my records I am taken back to my youth – the house I was in when I listened to Tubeway Army’s Replicas for the first time. The conversation with my mum at the bus stop in Bognor Regis when she told me that the Sex Pistols’ C’mon Everybody was a cover. Each one a memory and a ticket to another time and place.
And then I started buying vinyl. Sometimes a new album, sometimes a replacement for something lost. Although it wasn’t ‘the’ record it still allowed me to remember the connection because it was that track, that album. Like so many people I love music. It plays a very big part in my life. But it was that ‘time-travel’ element that excited me. The bedrooms of my youth, the girlfriends, the discos, the concerts, those school years.
Not long ago I discovered what releases were being offered for Record Store Day – a series of limited releases for various artists designed to generate interest and excitement because they were automatically rare. I saw an album that I wanted. It was limited edition, in white vinyl, was the first time it was being released on vinyl. It had extra tracks, new photography and was ‘as the artist wanted it to be’. I was very keen to get it. You cannot reserve items – it’s first come, first served. I made a plan. I would make sure I was available on that morning so that I could get there early. I chatted with the owners of the shop and they were getting copies in of that album. I just needed to get there early enough to get a copy. The excitement was building.
But as the time grew closer something changed. I started to ask myself what it was that I was getting excited about. Why did I want that album? What would it give me? I already had the album on CD and can access it on Spotify. I had the extra tracks on other albums. What would owning that album mean to me? Wasn’t it just another piece of stuff? It didn’t remind me of anything because it was a new thing. What would I gain by owning it?
I got there at 8.30am for the 9am opening to discover a queue that extended a long way down the street, considerably longer than I expected it to be. I saw one of the owners who told me that people had started queuing at half two in the morning. I don’t have any issue with what other people choose to do and there’s no judgement in any of this. But I didn’t join the queue. I realised that acquiring this record wasn’t actually important to me at all. It would be another record, that I might play a couple of times initially.
I walked home and as I did so I reflected on how powerful nostalgia is in my life and that records are about me connecting to my past. They are not about my present or my future. It was for me a powerful discovery.
So take a moment to consider what it is you’re acquiring and why you’re doing so. You might be surprised to discover what it’s representing – what’s you feel it’s giving you. And then ask yourself whether it’s actually providing that. Perhaps there are other ways to get the satisfaction you desire. Or maybe the feeling you’re after can’t be bought.
Why not have a conversation to explore what it is you truly want and discover what it is that no amount of records can give you.
P.S. For those of you who are curious it was David Sylvian’s Dead Bees on a Cake.