I am an anorak, I am a music nerd. I’m not complete devotee but when ever I go somewhere new I’m in the local record shop, i get a thrill when i see a sad teenager holding a sign for a record fair and i love a good rummage through a bargain bin. I’ve always been this way for as long as I can remember. From my dad taking me to my first record fair when I was 6 or 7 and buying me a copy of John Entwistle Whistling Rhymes thinking it was a kids album.
Shall I add a picture to show how inappropriate this was to buy a kid?
So being a music nerd it was the only thing I was interested in. In grade 6 I got into loads of trouble because the book smart nerds on my table didn’t like it that I wrote RunDMC and the Beastie Boys on my pencil case. Also when my mum sent me out to get some Maltese biscuits for my dad I came back with a Rebel MC 7″ instead…like she wasn’t going to notice! (She did as soon as I didn’t have the bag and I didn’t give back the cash). I dreamt of the albums i’d get, make long lists at Christmas and watch Video Hit’s from start to finish every Saturday morning.
All of this obsession isolated me from a large majority of fellow females everywhere..why is that???. Look if your going to be 14 and you want a hippy birthday party, don’t complain when I only bring hippy kind of music…
So at school I hung out with metal heads and the like. Being in the burbs in Australia there are not going to be stacks of people of either gender, who want to read your 4 month old copy of Melody Maker or NME. (That’s how long it took to get there).
Anyway I’m digressing as I do so well. This week I had gone to see chief mind messer Derren Brown, and in it he said the kids at school called him Dick Brain because he could memorize lots of stuff. When I was walking back home I said am I a music Dick Brain? You could be a dick brain about anything really couldn’t you?
The next morning a friend of mine had sent me a link to a collection of photos from the States of closing down and derelict record stores. This excited my dick brain but also made me sad about the demise of the once glorious and holy record store (its not all rose-tinted there was a lot of skanky ones about too).
I’ve worked at independent record store that was a good business, but turned bad when the new owner’s only experience was how to work a petrol pump. It was still a nice job and I could go to work in a petticoat and jumper (it was the height of riot grrrl fashion)
I moved to a chain where they originally only hired girls with big chest’s (I kid you not!) and another chain with a friendly dog (but hipster clicky staff) and one who was run for a time by a beardy man (with brilliant nerdy staff).
The thing about some of these places were was that they were about money than music, and more about being cool than living everyday with passion.
But the independent music store was my first taste and it made me feel like I was in a whole culture that understood me. I was paid in CD’s most of the time unless we had a few sales but we would spend the day listening to UK imports and eating food behind the counter. I was a foundling and I was getting an education.
At this time I was heavy into Riot Grrl but things had been changing. I was listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin (2 mainly), Big Brother and the Holding Company and Janis Joplin. But this store had reignited my love for UK indie. I had been a shoegazer before grunge hit and it was here I was welcomed back into it’s arms. Pulp, Ash, Blur, Radiohead this was just before brit pop was massive in Australia but had already passed it’s used by date in the UK .
But as all good things this had to end and I went headlong into a world or corporate music retail, which a lot of people who used to work there really didn’t know a thing about music except that they liked Bon Jovi. But I was lucky because of my dick brain I had the free reign of stuff and my music knowledge grew. But it was still difficult as all my colleagues were 2pac and TLC fans so I was back on the outskirts with the odd person with similar tastes walk through the door. Here I was still a dick brain but I got alot of free tickets to shows because no one else wanted them.
Cut through this isn’t a CV. I finally gained employment in a store with fellow dick brains. Loads of nerds with amazing encyclopaedic knowledge about everything. The pay was crap , but that wasn’t the point. You could argue all day about the pop qualities in Roxette, drive people nuts if you wanted to play the new Joan as policewoman album on repeat, sit at lunchtime with people helping me with answers to the Mojo crossword or play Russian roulette with the cd’s. Our customers knew we were much nerdier than the listening dog store round the corner and come to us because we wouldn’t sneer when they asked for the X factor album or sigh when they were after was a rare classical recording. Even once a man bought the last Kula Shaker lp and I said I loved them. He looked at me and said that’s not fair to joke. Joking I was not, I love Peasants, Pigs and astronauts. He was wrapt!
I’m sounding like a dinosaur I know. But for me it was never about being cool it was about where my obsession was and working with it everyday. I love Spotify and I like that if I want one song I don’t need to buy the whole album. It’s not all bad now.
I think what I’m getting at is It’s not being a woman or a dick brain really is it? It’s that with all stuff online there are not too many situations where older people can complain that they can’t find this rare pressing, or when they saw Bowie at Wembley or teenagers can go into to try to pinch stuff. There’s not many places where you can hold the prize in your hand.
Even when the record fair comes around there are less and less stall holders sometimes I’m amazed they still hold it. Once when I was into my 30s a stall holder once said to me if you need any help with what all the records and who’s who just ask me. I said I doubt I need help I’ve been doing these things since I was 6! Which was/ still is part of the problem isn’t it? I’m trying to buy albums with a pair of tits , I obviously have no idea what I’m looking for.. Scuse me sir do you have any Robbie Williams?
Apologies if this is indulgent….