BUSAN, South Korea – Nothing dates a body more than their record collection, and if you glanced through mine, you’d think I was Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. When I mention 8-track tapes to my nephews and nieces, they look at me as though I’m wearing a Civil War uniform. It’s not their fault, they were born with the world of music at their fingertips, completely bereft of all the dust that comes from flipping through the boxes in used LP shops and garage sales. It’s their time now, not mine; the interim is theirs.
In high school, I used to be an avid collector of all genres of music, particularly punk and funk, and I was so up on all the latest shit. NME, Select, VOX, Melody Maker, SPIN, Creem, Rolling Stone, Uncut, Graffiti, Kerrang!, you name the music rag, I read it cover to cover (monthlyâ and without fail) just to be in the know about anything going on in the music industry, no matter how insignificant the news. If Todd Rundgren was going to produce the next Lemonheads album, I’d know which studios they were going to book. I knew that Mary’s Danish got screwed over by Morgan Creek Records. Johnny Thunders/The Heartbreakers L.A.M.F. The Lost ’77 Mixes is the definitive release, leave the ’84 remix alone. Sinead O’Connor samples Funky Drummer on her sophomore album, track 2. Useless minutia even in a Trivial Pursuit game.
Once I discovered women, music took a backseat in a big way. But swearing off music for one year is tantamount to 20 Rip Van Winkle years in that realm. I never really got back into it full time, and truth be told, I always felt guilty. You can’t have two mistresses when one of them is the music.
The cool thing about having older brothers/sisters/friends, however, is that those of them who also get deep into music can be very good about passing on things that have moved them. Not everything you get is essential, but the music scene in Busan involves a lot of people from all walks of life, and it’s reflected in their own collections. Amazingly eclectic and it mostly all fits. It’s one of the best music educations I could have ever learned and it was entirely free.
Music stores have gone the way of the dinosaur, unfortunately. It’s a sign of the times that most people download MP3s instead of going through the racks buying things that look interesting. On the one hand, there are more options than ever. But on the other hand, that means there’s also a lot more filler to go through in order to get to the good stuff.
I’m amazed that I’m still able to get blown away by new acts. Take for example a band like Camera Obscura from Glascow, who wear their influences on their sleeves like Boy Scout merit badges, yet still sound amazingly unique. Or Danish duo The Raveonettes who’ve distilled the 50’s into this pure fuzz-tone-pop-pastiche that borders on the preposterous, but still blows you away. It’s no longer a question of whether something’s new or notâeverything under the sun has been done already. But some bands are still putting out vital stuff that is likely to transcend time. All the best albums sound like they could have been released yesterday.
There’s no question I’m an old fart as a music consumer; I’m no longer a viable demographic for the dying music industry to even bother to exploit at this point. I don’t care if Justin Timberlake’s playing a Bosendorfer grand piano with his hemorrhoids, or if Nicky Minaj will release his remix album by Easter, or if Rihanna’s gone back to Chris Brown for round 2 of that boxing match. But it’s truly a great thing to discover that years after you’ve written off your ears as damaged goods, they still function and react when you introduce a little magic to them in the form of a new little ditty.
While you’re here in Koreaâwhether it’s for a year or not–do yourself a solid and spend an evening with some of the old bastards in town while they spin their memories on the turntable in places still loaded with LPs like Ol’55. You’d be a fool to not take advantage of the opportunity, especially if you’re a true fan of music. The format doesn’t matter, but the music always will.