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By Noah Gocial

What does a record signify? We know what it is and what it does, but why does it make some of us feel certain things? When I pick one up—a rare Miles Davis or Bone Thugs-N-Harmony—I feel a sense of accomplishment that I am hard-pressed to describe. It is as if I had been scouring the earth just for a chance I could find something, unsure of if it even exists, then here it is! With all the records I see and hold, I wonder how many people have been looking for that exact one. When I cannot purchase the record, I look at it as simply giving someone else the opportunity to buy it—let’s not kid ourselves, the same one tends to still be unbought week after week, waiting in perpetuity for the perfect person. The music means endless memories: weddings, break ups, long car rides, first kisses, graduation parties, nights out. I am holding a piece of history in my hand; did the artist know they would one day be signed, their record craved, bought, or abandoned?

I have been searching for a very specific record since the start of this semester. Because I know that the person I’m getting this for will not read this, I will say that it’s Charles Mingus’ The Clown or really any of his other records. It’s like a game of cat and mouse. I have four vendors at the Georgetown Flea Market, and two record stores, on call to let me know if they found any of his work. They either entirely forgot about me or haven't found anything because I haven't heard anything yet. But I keep checking. And I will continue to keep checking. It has consumed me, to the point where if I do not see it in my vendors, then I leave! No looking at cool artifacts, political pins, clothing, or antiques; records or nothing. This past Sunday I went and learned that Dennis, one of the record vendors, had a Mingus but sold it last Sunday. Full stop. I was here last Sunday. What do you mean it was here, too? Was it that close to finally being in my possession? I asked where he was stationed, and he said on the other side of the area–I didn’t see him!

So what does a record signify? Is it the hunt, the adventure? Is it the desire to find something rare and historical and claim it as your own? Is it the reward of getting to listen to the music—though it’s not like we have phones, right?—or is it how each person views an album differently? Maybe that’s it. How you can look at Karpeh by Cautious Clay and see Jazz while I see R&B. How you can view Winter in America by Gil Scott-Heron as being entertaining while I see it as being overtly political. How you listen to The Drop that Contained the Sea by Christopher Tin with disinterest while I see it as the definition of love. Maybe that is what the record signifies: the ever divulging reasons for enjoying music.

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