Record Collecting Miscellanies: Liner Note Junkie

Since I've been a kid, I've been obsessed with liner notes -- the details that catalog the minutiae in the grooves. My father used to subscribe to the Time Life Classic Country collection, and I used to categorize and memorize the liner notes, storing them for some unknown future. Even then I was a music historian by default. Later, when my mom got the Sounds of the Seventies cds, I would pore over them.

As I built my own collection, I still read liner notes. You can learn so much about a record, but also about the scene or situation that it has developed from. Each kernel leads to another. The bands in the acknowledgements section, the producer, the additional musicians -- all tell the story of this record, while leading to other important bands and albums. A voracious music junkie will always find another clue to building a collection, while scraping together a narrative of that record's invention.

My continual search through liner notes first became evident when I started listening to Punk in the mid to late 90's. I won't debate the merits of punk, or purport to find definitions of "what is punk?", or anything of the kind. I just went from Green Day to other bands on Lookout! becoming a label junkie as others had for Subpop a few years earlier; I marveled at how LP notes differed from CD notes, due to space limitations and other variables. I followed this thread to other bands that played at Gilman Street, other bands from the bay area, other bands in the genre, and so on. Eventually, and now unashamedly, treating Epitaph records in a similar manner before running the gamut of independent labels, searching for Pavement singles on Matador, and the like.

I built relationships with like-minded individuals, read fanzines, and kept searching. Word of mouth is fabulous, but I still return to liner notes. Nothing beats reading the lyrics and looking at what the band or label chose to include, while smelling the sweet scent of the vinyl and listening to the music pour from the grooves.


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