So a few weeks ago a very handsome man I know (wink) bought me a beautiful record player.
And not one of those Crosley suitcase ones – that are strangely confusing and pushed by Urban Outfitters. This was a Audio-Technica masterpiece..
I think a lot of us have the record player dream – and I was glee filled that mine had now come true. (Thank you handsome man, who is much more than just handsome.)
So I told myself, ‘now begins the long awaited mystical journey of collecting records‘.
And I set out that weekend, optimism in hand, to take my first steps on that enchanting road. I had visions of me flicking through the LP’s – looking as cool as a cucumber – while my cumbersome and flighty heart crept out of its chest, flopped all over the records, and lead me to some new heavenly dream music.
Ahh the sweet optimism of ignorance.
So here I am, out strolling, throwing in a skip and a jump, smiling at the sky, noticing the wonderful London skyline and I’m heading to two record stores nearby.
Then around 45minutes later I’m trundling home with my heart practically in tatters. Trying not to scowl too much at strangers nor feel too much anger towards a record shop owner who was really just living his own dream and being himself – even though I found ‘himself’ to be a bit of an ass.
So what happened? The first shop was more of a record exchange store – so when the only women I could find were R&B artists who’s albums I already had (and didn’t really have a burning desire to get Jamelia’s first album on vinyl). I felt knocked down but still optimistic.
The second store I was headed to sold things from new – so I still had some good strong positive wind in my sails.
Oh no did the rocks come up out of the surf, capsize the boat and crack those masts clean in half.
In the second shop, I’m perusing and I’m thinking – ‘hang on a moment, there’s not a woman in sight!!?’
After perseverance I noticed that tucked away in a corner of the store was a section called ‘Female Singer Songwriters’ taglined with ’60’s, 70’s, 80’s’. It had 12 LPs in it – 6 of which were Joni Mitchell albums. It had Joanna Newsom who wasn’t 60’s, 70’s or 80’s so I could only conclude that this was just the place in the shop were female artists got cooped.
Slightly dumfounded I gave the place a thorough go over and did find some Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone – but that was it. In this ‘Record Store’, filled with thousands of LPs, there was maybe an optimistic grand total of twenty that I’d be able to listen to this year. It was an unexpectedly emotionally overwhelming realisation – and felt pretty much like crap pants.
As I paid for my Joni Mitchel I was served by a young woman and I asked her ‘how do you feel about the size of the women’s section and the limited women in stock?’
At this point the store owner, hearing my question, sidles over – chest puffed out, obnoxious grin (in hindsight) and says ‘Women’s section! – I didn’t even know we had a women’s section!’. To this I responded nothing, and turned back to the woman I was talking to.
The woman looked fairly embarrassed and said the two guys that run the shop don’t really listen to her.
At which point he guffawed and said ‘yeah, we only let her listen to what she wants on her birthday!’.
I again turned back to the woman who explained the store worked on a recommendation basis – and they didn’t take hers. She didn’t say it in a catty way, she wasn’t having ‘banter’ and joining in with her hilarious boss. She was quiet, humble and serious.
I left the store feeling shitty and confused.
I think having a record player is going to be more complicated than I thought.
I guess record stores do become personal to their owners, and in a way they are extensions of those owner’s curated record collections. For some reason these guys didn’t really value music made by women and ‘weren’t’ receiving recommendations for their LP’s in store. (But that’s some bullshit).
So now, I’m on a hunt for some different/better people with different/better music taste who have their own different/better record stores. If you can recommend any in London – please give me a shout.