Three months ago, I spent $1,071.89 on records. It had been only a few weeks since I inherited a whopping 10 grand from my Great Aunt Lil (who I have no recollection of ever meeting) via my grandmother. And it was burning quite a hole in my pocket.
It's a weird (and wonderful!) thing to receive such a large amount of money for, well, nothing, so I felt compelled to be somewhat responsible with most of it. I paid off my car and a couple of credit cards; I even opened a savings account. But I wanted to do something fun with the money, too, something I would never be able to afford otherwise. So, I booked a room at a Best Western in San Francisco and headed to Amoeba Records on Haight Street, intent to blow a grand on records.
Amoeba is a mega-size independent record store and vinyl-buyer's heaven—a place where I've always dreamed of spending ludicrous amounts of money. And spend I did: The spree itself took almost five hours and proved to be an exhausting—and thrilling—experience. It involved an alphabetical approach, some ballpoint-pen-on-back-of-my-hand math and one crabby clerk. It also involved not over-thinking things (something I'm often guilty of). Sure, there were things I had hoped for and didn't find (anything Wilco or My Morning Jacket, something older than Fort Recovery by Centro-matic). But I found plenty. In fact, after scanning the vinyl section A through Z, I had accrued $1,045.93 worth of music. I added two hard-to-find Centro-matic CDs and checked out.
A few fave finds include the Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream, Modest Mouse's The Moon & Antarctica (40 bucks!) and the trip's one guilty pleasure, MÖtley CrÜe's Girls Girls Girls (seriously; I have butt-rock roots). I also sprang for the Beatles' Revolver, but got the U.S. release, which doesn't include "I'm Only Sleeping" or "And Your Bird Can Sing" (probably my favorite two tracks on the album). Bummer. Coming across both One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels, a Bright Eyes/Neva Dinova split, and the Built to Spill/Caustic Resin record with "When Not Being Stupid Is Not Enough" on it, however, entirely made up for it.
Amoeba graciously gave me a free T-shirt for my spendings (the second clerk I dealt with was far friendlier, saying, "This is awesome. I wish I could be doing this!") and packed it with my 70 new albums (and two CDs) into two cardboard boxes. And, as my boyfriend and I dragged ourselves up a so-steep-it-could-only-be-San Francisco hill, incredibly heavy boxes in tow, my motives for spending a grand on vinyl were reaffirmed: Actual, physical records are worth so much precisely because of their weight—because they're something you can truly hold, and because, like me, they're real enough to get worn out.