Book Review: Record Collecting For Girls by Courtney E. Smith
The first mistake Courtney E. Smith made with her book Record Collecting For Girls is giving it that particular title. Unless her plan was to trick vinyl lovers into reading it...because I'm here to tell ya it doesn't have anything to do with collecting records....vinyl that is. And while I read the reviews before I purchased it, I guess I had some glimmer of a hope that people were just failing to mention the lack of vinyl part.
The second mistake made by the author is the overwhelming lack of valuable content. This 'book' reads like a personal diary of sorts, and how it even got published is a mystery to me...unless she just called in some big favors from PR, Editing and Publishing friends she had in college or at MTV. It lends itself perfectly to one of my biggest pet peeves; the latest glut of "girls with vinyl" photos that seem to be clogging every social media known to mankind. I'm talking about the ones featuring 'models' who clearly don't have a clue about what a record is, evidenced by how they are placing them over certain parts of their body, or just trying to look sexy while putting their hands all over the record(s) in a very uneducated manner. All fluff, no substance. But I digress...
If you're interested in the long haul, read on, as I cannot help but to respond directly to certain parts of the book...the music fanatic in me just won't allow it to rest until I get some things off my chest. Most of this is directed at the author herself, or in some cases it's just me ranting out in general.
Do not ass-u-me all of your readers listen to the force-fed selections on the radio and on television. Saying that you had a hand in what was put out there (She worked at MTV in the early 2000's, when everyone I knew had long since given up on MTV) is fine, but not all of us subjected ourselves to the bulk of such drivel. That being said, I am a fan of Franz Ferdinand et al, but that certainly wasn't shaping what I was listening to at the time. If you're going to ass-u-me anything, be it that your readers will perhaps have more sophisticated musical tastes than even yourself.
On 'Guilty Pleasures'...
While I appreciate that we all have them, and can readily groan at each other's reluctant confessions of them, it's more than a bit of a stretch to proclaim that your admitted love of the Pussycat Dolls (God help us) is "punk as fuck". Do not attempt to throw around that precious four letter word in such a blase` manner. Perhaps it's an age thing, or out of pure respect I have for that momentous movement, but please do not think for a moment that The Pussycat Dolls and Punk belong in the same UNIVERSE. Seriously.
Also, I don't know one person who would put DEVO on a guilty pleasures list. They have earned immunity by being pioneers of a sound that continues to be emulated 30+ years later. Be careful how you lump others into the mix too, such as Sid Vicious, because each of these artists have too loyal a fan base to ever be demoted to a 'Guilty Pleasure'. Oy...
The Smiths Chapter
I'll keep this part short and sweet, which is what you should have done. The Smiths chapter was way too long, even for avid fans of the band, of which I am one. Make your point, or as I like to say, 'state your purpose' and move on. Don't risk alienating or losing your readers who may not be even casual fans. But I'll give you this; you've got coconut sized balls to put in print your thoughts about a 'boy' who listens to too much (what's the definition of too much, anyway??) Smiths, and your warning us to stay away from such 'boys'.
A Vinyl Point...Finally!
The author brings up an excellent point in that digital music is what you listen to while doing five other things on your computer. Playing an actual vinyl record requires (or at least suggests) you to really pay attention to the music, while the physical demand requires you to put the needle on the groove. I believe these are just two of the many reasons why records seem to posses an irresistible pull. Something within the grooves awakens the obsessions within us, and unlocks deep, dark desires while giving our ears a sensory treat. But them's my words, not hers.
I'm not even going to go into the whole "Beatles vs. Stones" chapter, as that's a tired argument and not one I'm interested in at all. Yes, both of those bands were my introduction to music and rock-n-roll in general too. They both have my utmost respect. But an entire chapter about your how's and why's of who is better or more relevant is simply just...y-a-w-n.
As I said earlier, this book reads more like a personal journal or diary, and probably should have been kept as such. Certainly, the editor was sleeping on the job by allowing the many glaring grammatical errors and awkward sentences to remain, but kind of proves this was a 'who-you-know' kind of effort, if you catch my drift. All scathing aside, I'm glad I read it for nothing more than as an example of what kind of book I don't want to write. And yes, dear readers, yours truly is writing a book on record collecting. For reals, not just for girls.