Confessions Of A Record Store Junkie, Chapter One

I wake up in the middle of a pile of jewel cases strewn about the floor like empty vials of crack cocaine and wonder what the hell just happened. I’m sweating like a pig, I’m still in my work clothes minus the shoes and have a day old beard. It’s dark…too dark, so I look at the alarm clock and find out its 2:30 in the morning.

I remember going to the used record store and purchasing a couple of CD’s, but then things get a little hazy. Short term memory loss, something I’ve encountered before, a condition usually brought on by the purchase of new music. You see, I am an addict. I have a ton of music, 99% of which I rarely listen to anymore. It’s not that the stuff I have isn’t good, quite the contrary. Most of it is excellent, but I need new sounds constantly. The old just ain’t getting’ me off anymore like it used to.

All right, things are starting to come back to me now. Yes, I was jonesing for a fix of new tuneage and, as usual, was having trouble justifying a new music purchase, with real cash anyway, ’cause my family has a few things we need to do like buy food, send the girls to camp…you know, things like that. Yes I am a music junkie, but not so much so that I sacrifice my family’s quality of life for my addiction. But I needs me some new music! My palms began to sweat, my heart rate was going nuts and my vision blurred to such a degree that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I remember rubbing my eyes, quite violently as a matter of fact, and sitting down on the sofa to regain my composure.

What can I do, what can I do? Focus, E, focus! Just think about it for a minute. Didn’t I see a sign on the window of the used record store that they are now accepting books for trade? Yes, YES! That’s good, I’ve got boxes old books in the garage! Yes! I run outside, open the garage, get the step ladder and start pulling boxes off the shelves. Where the hell did I put those anyway, and why the Hell didn’t I mark the freakin’ boxes?!?! So I go by weight; if it feels heavy enough to be books I open them and take a peek. It takes me about 15 or so boxes before I find the books, but it’s worth it. I have collected a ton of books over the years and I don’t think I’ve re-read one tenth of them, so I decide then and there to sacrifice them for the greater cause! Easy.

I do some quick calculations in my head: They’ll probably give me $.50-$1.00 for each paperback, and $1.00-$3 for each hard cover. It totals approximately $35-$50, in trade. There’s no guarantee, of course. They may only give me pennies on the dollar, but it’s worth the drive and worth the risk. If I’m really off I figure I can still get a couple, right?

I drive down on my lunch hour, and to tell you the truth even though it was only 15 miles away it felt like a 2 hour drive. I park the car, jump out, get my box-‘o’-books and walk through the front door, which a very nice fellow junkie opened for me, God bless his addicted little heart.

“There are a couple people ahead of you, so it’ll take about ½ hour. That ok?” “Sure”, I tell the clerk. It’ll give me some time to browse the isles, an exercise I never tire of. I go up and down the isles, at least twice, for about half an hour and the clerk calls my name over the intercom and tells me she’s done.

“It came to $72.50 in store credit, or $49 cash. Which would you like?” Holy crap! Way better than what I expected. “Trade”, I tell her. Duh. I grab the receipt and my I.D. and start walking the isles again. Need to find more stuff, now that I can afford it. Heh Heh. A couple of indie kids glance at me as drool falls down from my open mouth. I’m fairly good with numbers, so I do the calculations in my head as I shop. $5.49 here, $11.99 there (a new one), $6.99, $2.99, $9.99., $25.00…and that leaves enough left over for the new issue of MOJO magazine. I am set, man! I go up and settle my account and jump back in my car. It’s just a habit, but I always make a point to open up each case to make sure what I actually bought is in there, and that there’s no scratches. I bought the brand new re-mastered version of Roxy Music’s Avalon once and there was a Slayer CD in the case, and not even one of the good ones. So I’m careful. Everything checks out so I choose one of my new acquisitions and slip it into the player for the ride home.

I succeeded! “Hail the victorious dead!!” I shout out my car window, for no reason in particular. I get home and download the disks into my ITunes and update the ‘Pod. Have dinner with the family, watch a little tube, and all the while my brain is yearning to get back to that new music. “Honey, can you please pass the P.I.L.? I mean the green beans?”

Finally, as my wife and kids are busy doing art and crafts and such and are preoccupied I have an opportunity to throw on some headphones and let the new tunes enter my bloodstream. Man, euphoria! My heart rate slows, my skin flushes, my mouth feels dry, so dry. My arms and legs feel like they’re a thousand pounds apiece! My anxiety is gone, replaced by a sense of calmness I haven’t felt in days.  I devour each album as much as I can as fast as I can…first, sample each song, about .30 seconds per. Then figure out which album I like the best and play the whole thing as I’m going to bed. I fall asleep with the headphones on.

The next day is Saturday and I do all the little outdoor Saturday stuff I usually do: raking, weed eating, odd chores here and there, eat something occasionally. The family and I go out for a while and grab a couple of movies. We watch the movies and my wife and kids go to bed. But not me. I need another fix, but the new stuff is already starting to bore me. Well, perhaps ‘bore’ is a little strong. I’m ‘not in the mood’ for anything I purchased yesterday, I need something different, something a little stronger. I open the CD armoire (yes, I understand how weird that sounds) and start rifling through the old(er) stuff. Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah…I start to feel like Jack Torrence from the Shining: “All work and no play makes E a very dull boy All work and no play makes E a very dull boy All work and no play makes E a very dull boy All work and no play makes E a very dull boy…” You get the picture. I feel like I’m going insane! I can’t find anything to listen to! Damn! Shit! I start to panic, I mean really panic, throwing CD’s around like a madman, trying, in vain, to find that one particular album that will make the damn shakes go away, and all of a sudden the world starts to spin…and then I black out.


So Now I know.


I wonder if my wife has any old books she doesn’t need anymore…