78 RPM Record Collectors

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78_collector_richardnevins_heneghan21

Richard Nevins, who runs the 78 reissue label Yazoo Records, sits in his personal record room.

edited from http://www.collectorsweekly.com:

Amanda Petrusich: I think a lot of collectors end up turning to 78 rpm records because they feel alienated by modern culture or not satisfied by it in some ways. Your collection becomes a way of insulating yourself from the facets of modernity that you find distasteful, unsustainable, or not nourishing. A lot of these guys had no interest in modern or contemporary music at all.

For them, it ended with World War II, or with Hank Williams. Everything that came after that, they don’t even want to know about it because they think it’s garbage. It’s frustrating for me as music fan and critic, because I’ll be like, “Wait, there are all these amazing people making amazing records,” and they have no interest in them.

Most collectors are white men who started collecting in the second half of the 20th century and have enough money to travel and buy records. They’re coming from a place of extraordinary privilege for sure. It’s these privileged white people collecting this music from disenfranchised African Americans. There is something uncomfortable, I think, for a lot of people, myself included, about that exchange.

I always get nervous talking about this because these are such big generalities. But socioculturally speaking, just in my experience, I think women are more comfortable listening to music and having an emotional reaction to it. We have the vocabulary for that. We’re socialized that it’s okay for us to do that.

With men, it’s a little more complicated. For a man to hear a song and be moved to tears by it, I think it can be a frightening experience or maybe an experience he has not been socialized to find acceptable. So collecting and organizing is a way of trying to de-fang those intense emotions and also figure them out through meticulous research, learning as much as they can about the record, owning the record. There are all these different ways you can mediate a very emotional experience to make it more concrete, more digestible, or less scary.

 

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One Response to “78 RPM Record Collectors”

  1. megandenne Says:

    I really enjoyed this, thank you. It made me think about my Fathers relationship to his records. He’s a very ‘hands on
    handy man’. How he studies the way the records are made and the way he made a series of shelves and boxes to store them all. It’s an extremely personal thing for him and I’ve released it’s not as simple as his ‘love for music’. It enables him to be everything he can’t in his day to day life, he’s generally very outgoing and social. But, he’ll sit quietly for hours listening and insist on being alone. He transforms, there’s certainly more going on for him. Again, cheers.

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