There’s an intense passion that goes into record collecting. But have you’ve ever met someone who wanted to not only get back their record collection, but the exact same records they used to own? That’s the journey Eric Spitznagel sets out on in his sixth book “Old Records Never Die.” Spitznagel recounts selling his records for food and beer money, which included Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” with a crush’s phone number on the front, The Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed” stamped with a bootprint, and a copy of The Replacements “Let it Be.” After an interview with Questlove, who says he would never sell any of his records, Spitznagel is overcome with a desire to get back the records of his youth.
But the premise is not as simple as trying to get back some old records. While following Spitznagel flipping through dusty records and stalking record swaps for his possessions, the story really opens up once it becomes clear it deals more with getting older and learning to leave the past behind. Each record and song he remembers has a story behind it, like him buying The Pixie’s “Doolittle” to get the approval of a punk rocker. These stories make things more vivid and will keep pages turning to see the outcome. It’ll also make readers think back on what songs or albums are tied to special moments or unforgettable memories. Though the entire book is engaging, it’s these stories where we get to know Spitznagel best.
Readers will be entranced by Spitznagel’s clever, funny writing style and witty observations, but sometimes he comes off as the cranky old timer. Earlier in the book Spitznagel admitted he avoided seeking out new music, favoring names he recognized instead. Fortunately, this changes near the end of the book. He also chastises people who wait in line for iPod’s and millennials who spend too much time watching Youtube. There’s also a point where he states “I don’t believe in children’s music,” which comes off as laughable. He also states how men collect music to show if off to others, which could be misconstrued as excluding female collectors. Though some of these observations are funny, they could potentially turn off readers under 30, who he doesn’t always speak highly of.
Though the book has the potential to appeal to a wider audience, it’s tailored to anyone who’s into collecting, specifically music. Readers who obsess over their own record collections will understand Spitznagel’s arguments on why holding vinyl is thrilling or how certain songs are tied to emotional bonds. Music lovers will find Spitznagel’s quest noble, while others think it ludicrous, which he is fully aware of. Still the honestly, heart, and the journey itself all make for a book you’ll struggle to put down.
“Old Records Never Die” is out now via Plume Books.