Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Memory Palace of Mr Froog

It's funny how powerfully music can recall distant memories - more than poetry (which is a pretty strong trigger for me), more even than the sense of taste or smell.

I have been sundered from the bulk of my record collection for a little over 18 years now. I compiled most of it - somewhere in the range of 600-700 albums and a dozen or so EPs (no singles!!), I think - during the mid-80s, when I was an undergraduate. (I went through a spell in the later '90s of trying to replace - and add to - this collection on CD; mostly during the year I spent in Canada, where I took advantage of the ridiculously low prices [only 5 Canadian dollars per disc for the most of the stuff I bought] at that most wonderful of private music store chains, Sam The Record Man, which, unsurprisingly, went bankrupt a couple of years later.)

And yet, and yet... despite not having given it very much thought in nearly two decades, I find that I can still recall much of that collection in quite a lot of detail: where I first bought each record, who introduced me to the artist, which musicians were playing on the album, which tracks I particularly liked. (And that's just thinking about these records. Christ knows what reveries I might be transported into if I heard some of this stuff again after all these years. Listening to Roger Miller's King Of The Road now [one of the first songs I ever heard] takes me instantly back to sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, five years old, transfixed by a reverential awe for the enormous Pye 'radiogram' in front of me, and for the wondrous music coming out of it.)

This realisation has suddenly been brought home to me by my newest online gadfly, Bucketoftongues - whose thought-provoking (mostly*) music blog has pitched me into a series of long reminiscences over my favourite vocalists, favourite bass players, and the favourite 'obscure' highlights of my record-buying career.

Yes, it is all a bit like the compulsive nerdery of Rob, Dick, and Barry in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, but... well, it's FUN, dammit. In that way that only painful nostalgia for lost happinesses and lost youth can be.

Go and take a look. You might find yourself being sucked in too.....

*  I had, of course, intended this 'mostly' to be read as referring forwards rather than backwards. Perhaps I should clarify: always thought-provoking and mostly [about] music.

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