I’ve long been fascinated by other people’s record collections. This was especially the case back in college, when my radio station pals and I almost couldn’t help but use musical taste as a barometer. Even beyond that, I was deeply interested in discovering new stuff that my friends and acquaintances might have in their respective stashes of well-loved vinyl. (It wasn’t nearly as much fun to go through cassettes or CDs as it was to sit around and listen to records.) Back before one could possess practically any song they liked on little more than a whim and ninety-nine cents (or, ahem, less), the inclusion of a record in someone’s collection was a declaration of commitment, of excitement, of deep, deep belief that this was music that was necessary. Given that, I was especially fascinated with those entirely unfamiliar albums that my friends had nestled in among the standbys we all owned. And if a collection happened to belong to an attractive young woman, well, I’ll admit that my curiosity increased significantly.
I remember very little of what was in one particular woman’s collection–the nights spent in that apartment were a long, long time ago–but I do remember her expressing affection for a U.K. band called the Bolshoi. I’d been at the radio station for a couple of years at this point, and the Bolshoi was a group I almost never heard on air or mentioned by the other DJs as an touchstone. I knew we had at least a couple of albums, but only because I might have glanced at them while trying to decide which Billy Bragg record to play. They weren’t within my sphere at all, and yet they were clearly within the realm of college radio. And here was someone whose taste in music (among other things) made me swoon a little clearly attesting to their greatness, as committed to having those records in her possession as I was to the works of R.E.M. or the Replacements.
I have no idea as to what music the person in question might listen to now, if those old the Bolshoi records still have a honored place in her home and heart. But I do know that I still think of her whenever one of the handful of songs by the band that’s dabbed into my iTunes shuffles up. Those songs belong to her. I’m simply borrowing them for a few minutes at a time.
(Disclaimer: Lindy’s Party, the album that holds the Bolshoi song posted above, is the last official release from the Bolshoi, and it appears to be out of print as a physical artifact. It can be acquired digitally, but we all know that doesn’t put kale in the crisper of the proprietor of your favorite local, independently-owned record store. The money spent on it may not even get to the band, given the well-established chicanery of the music industry. What I’m trying to communicate is this: the song is presented here with the understanding that it will not cause undue harm to the performers or any honorable small businesses, denying them funds they would otherwise get. Regardless, should I be contacted with someone with due authority over the song’s copyright, and should that individual or entity make a strongly-worded or even polite argument about the need for me to remove it from the interweb, I will gladly and promptly comply.)