Being a classic rock lover, most fellow fans that I meet are typically male and in their 50s. I don’t really see age, as a shared passion for the same type of the music and connections to the same melody is enough for me. Most other classic rock fans are really great to talk to, but sometimes you come across a special fan who completely inspires and redefines being a fan.
I was visiting family at Christmas when my future father-in-law told me about their mailman, Shane, who is also a huge classic rock fan. I was invited to his home to check out his vinyl collection, and I happily accepted. It isn’t very often you get invited to talk about your passion with a random stranger who sounds like he knows his stuff.
When I first arrived, we spoke of our parameters of what good classic rock was and what missed the mark (AKA Animals or Meddle is great by Pink Floyd, The Wall is completely commercial – although I do like The Wall.) We described what each genre was and it felt very much like a screening process. I happily explained that I had a couple hundred records, and that my collection was quite impressive and expansive. I was very proud. He seemed semi-impressed, asking friendly follow up questions. Until he asked the question, “So do you have any music from anywhere else besides America or Britain?” I shook my head in ignorance as I thought I had been caught in my own small bubble.
But I guess I passed because after about ten minutes of screening, I was escorted into the room that contained the vinyl. And I emphasize ‘room’. There were literally thousands of records, all neatly placed in boxes or displayed on the walls. It literally took my breath away as I walked into this sacred music space.
I immediately swallowed my words and pride with my record collection. I was an amateur and completely humbled when I saw the converted bedroom. Particularly when I didn’t know three fourths of the albums on the walls. Wow, I really know nothing about classic rock, I kept thinking.
The albums were not simply placed in a room for storage, they were divided by genre, year and artist. Shane pointed out the different sections: soul and funk, punk, american classic rock, british classic rock, and, from what I could infer, his favorite secion: German and Eastern European experimental rock of the 1960s and 1970s, also known as Krautrock. Google it. I was also introduced to Kosmische Musik (obviously German as well, and pronouced like cosmic music), which is a division of Krautrock. It is a type of progressive rock that has heavy use of synthesizers. Of course, my butchering of all these genres is simply because until late December, I had no idea they even existed. I was introduced to bands like Faust, Thirteen Floor Elevators, Can, and Neu!
As we leafed through thousands and thousands of records, Shane would unwrap one and put it on the record player in the living room. There were speakers all throughout the house that pumped the chosen album to each room. This was a lot of work. And even more so, each album had a plastic sleeve around it. That is no accident. Shane puts his newest albums into a pile that are eventually put into custom made plastic wrap. While Shane listens to his music, he has a small workstation with the plastic covers, exacto knives and rulers. Each record. Every single one has individual care.
Some albums are repeats, which are sometimes repeated to find a more playable version, a collector’s edition, or a promo-pressing. In case you have never seen one (which I had not), it is a record typically with a white, blank label with a simple description of the artist and album title. These are the earliest pressings of the later commercially released albums, and yes, Shane has them of multiple famous bands.
Oh, and all the bins that hold the records, Shane makes those too. Handmade wood bins and shelves house all the records, and each one is made by Shane. They are absolutely beautiful, and some are even on wheels. The wheels make it easier to browse the records of the floor, because, you know, there are multiple levels of records.
It is quite overwhelming to see so much passion in one room. Thousands and thousands of records not only collected, but loved with so much respect, it’s enough to make you cry. As Shane puts it, 40-something years of collecting and gathering, it’s surprising it only fits in one room. He didn’t just wake up and find a record collection. He didn’t just know how to collect or what to collect, it has taken years of research, reading and exchanging information with others just like him. It is inspiring and daunting to see such a great collection and see someone so passionate towards something you have seemingly only scratched the surface. As much as I love my record collection, and am still proud of it, I feel as if I will never come close to Shane in his love, knowledge and devotion.
But that doesn’t seem to bother him. He likes that a younger generation still loves older music and still wants to keep on the tradition, even if they don’t have a music knowledge of a 50-something year old.
It does inspire me to keep reviewing records. And I got Shane’s approval to review my albums. Keep it going. So I guess there is no greater seal of approval!
So I guess with my inspired new perspective on record collecting and passion involved in classic rock, it is my job to keep going. Thanks, Shane!