This last week being in staycation mode at home has been digging through my archives and cache’ of things that I’ve collected over the years. From rare VHS footage to old tour flyers collected and photos taken at gigs to going back to revisit a stack of DJ / Digging mixes that both known and unknown DJs have curated on cassette, CD and online dating back from the mid 90’s until I’d say the early 2000’s. Everything else after that are still fresh in my daily rotation but it was nice to revisit some of those heavy hitters that had me scratching my head back then wondering what they were playing. Guys on the Funk & Soul scene like Keb Darge and Jazzman Gerald, deep diggers including Soulman, The Conmen, DJ Muro and others plus the occasional weird mixes by guys featured on Soul Strut who would turn out Psychedelic, Brazilian and Library mixes that made listeners dig deeper.
Going through so many of those mixes over the last few days, I realized that there are still so many songs that I haven’t found or still don’t know what they are and that’s perfectly alright. Hearing many of them now made me realize that digging is never done and at some point with the record gods looking down upon me, I’ll stumble across something that’s been on the list forever. After all, isn’t the thrill in the hunt? Which brings me to the present day when everything is so easily accessible, people can shazam your mix, you get people sliding into your DM’s asking for titles or the ever so popular, “track name please” written by someone that you don’t even know. What happened to the art and quest of personal discovery? Finding something that few others knew existed and being the person who introduced it to the scene. After all, isn’t that what legendary guys like Keb Darge, Soulman and others are known for and what inspired the likes of Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow to create their Brainfreeze and Product Placement series which sparked another generation of diggers to jump on the 45 trend and try to unearth new or newly discovered selections?
Things have seemed to have gotten way too easy to be classified as a “digger” or collector with both of those titles being given or thrown around way too easy. Then you have the mysterious guys who seem to have endless credit card funds to run up bids to high prices and pay amounts that are way more than the worth, just for the sake of having something which ultimately messes with the true value of records. Hearing sellers say “well the last one sold for” is not a proper way of pricing records. Yes, the medium price being payed maybe more accurate but it’s alway great to find sellers who base their price value on what they already have invested in the record the add a premium which they think is fair after that.
Although there are an abundance of reissues that make it easier for just about anyone to play what was once rare, there are still those who go the extra mile to dig deeper. The joy of hearing something for the first time or knowing that only a handful of collectors have in their collection is unlike anything else. Looking down at the decks and giving the nod to a fellow DJ or collector in approval and knowing he / she are in a league of their own is what keeps us on our toes in the collecting world. Although there are collectors who have seen it all (or close to it), no collector has it all. They might have owned it at one point, sold it for something else that was fitting their music tastes at the moment but that’s what collecting is all about. Something makes its way in and later out of your collection. It’s no different than those who collect visual art to hang in homes. At some point, the investment has paid for itself and you’ve enjoyed it enough that you want something else to replace it, records are no different.
So with that being said, yes it’s much easier to get whatever you want at the moment either because you have very deep pockets or something sought after has been reissued but remember, it’s about the long distance journey of finding things, not the one time grab. The journey is where the stories are at for future conversations. How something found it’s way in your crates, how you stumbled upon something that you’ve been after for quite sometime.