Clint West’s Americana Plus: A new regular AUK column

Should we keep all our old records, CDs, books etc?

Welcome to my new weekly column where I’ll be ruminating on all things americana and anything else that happens to enter my head each week. I’ll also be linking it to my weekly radio show, more of which later.

I have to admit that in this age of streams and downloads, the digital revolution has made only a limited impact on me. Yes, I’ll check stuff out on Spotify etc. but usually with a view to pre-listening before I commit to buying something. I have a very large collection of vinyl and CDs as well as some cassettes and music DVDs and I’m still adding to it. Occasionally I thin it out a bit when the realisation hits me that I probably won’t be playing that old Uriah Heap LP again and wondering what an earth possessed me to buy it in the first place.

Hoarding all this old technology also means that you have to have the hardware to play it on. So, I confess, right here and now, that I still have a CD player in my car. That’s it, I’ve said it and it’s true. I don’t actually buy many CDs these days, at least not new ones, but there is a great stash of them in a small room in my house, for which my daughter helpfully had made a metal plaque that she gave me last year on Father’s Day. It reads ‘Clint’s Record and CD Room’.

A friend of my wife persuaded me some years ago that books are for reading, not gathering dust, so I did actually get rid of most of my books. A favourite charity benefitted from the proceeds and hopefully someone else got to read them. People have pointed out that many of them are probably gathering dust on somebody else’s shelves now, and that may well be the case, but I’ve done my bit. All that remains are a small number of favourites that I may read again one day, some reference books and a pile that are waiting to be read. Do I miss all those old books, no not really. Could I do the same with my music collection? Certainly not!

So, what’s the difference? Well, for me a book is something that once I’ve read it has little use to me. I don’t think I’ve ever read the same book twice in my life and there are very few that I’m likely to read again in preference to something new. Music on the other hand is something that I am happy to return to and reacquaint myself with. I regularly dig out old vinyl for another spin. I’m more likely to play CDs in the car. For several years now I’ve actually been making a conscious effort to take a couple of old CDs from the shelf, probably something I’ve not listened to in some while, and play them in the car, usually driving to and from work when I’m on my own and can fully enjoy them.

On my radio show I’ve incorporated this concept when compiling my playlist for the week. Early in the show each week I’ve included a feature called ‘Off the Shelf’ where I play a couple of tracks from the CDs I’ve picked off my shelves that week and have been playing in the car. Last week’s show featured tracks from Greg Brown and Rachel Harrington from 1992 and 2007 respectively. You can listen to them and the rest of the show by clicking the link to last week’s show at the bottom of the page.

The show is called ‘Clint West’s Americana Plus’ and goes out from 8pm to 10pm every Tuesday night on a fully licensed internet radio station. There is also a ‘Rewind’ facility on the website so you can listen at another time if you should have a red-hot date on Tuesday night. Why not join me join me for the show, either in real time or by Rewind. It’s made for fans of americana and related music – that’s you!

More next week. Take care until then.

About Clint West 321 Articles
From buying my first record aged 10 and attending my first gig at 14, music has been a lifelong obsession. A proud native of Suffolk, I have lived in and around Manchester for the best part of 30 years. My idea of a perfect day would be a new record arriving in the post in the morning, watching Ipswich Town win in the afternoon followed by a gig and a pint with my mates at night,
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Fred Arnold

Clint, great column. Apart from the radio show (which I don’t have), you have pinned down exactly how I feel about my music collection (which is pretty large, like yours) and my book collection, which I have been persuaded to substantially reduce in anticipation of downsizing our home (using exactly the same arguments for doing so as you have). I will show my wife your words of wisdom!

Clint West

Thanks Fred and glad to be of assistance!

Andy Trott

Reading your piece here Clint i wonder if you have been spying on me and my musical leanings! Despite regular “sort outs” i still hoard over 2,000 vinyl albums and almost the same amount of cd’s. The streaming/download craze has hardly touched me thankfully and only recently a young fella boasted to me he had thousands of songs on his phone (fercissakes!!) – NO you just gotta phone i replied. Even buying a new car with no cd player just meant i had to transfer discs onto a usb stick.Hope your piece here Clint is going to be a regular column, us dinosaurs need a voice!

Clint West

Thanks Andy, yes it will be a regular column but maybe I’ll rename it to something more Jurassic!

Andy Trott

Forgot to say too Clint, i will deffo be tuning in, probably on rewind to your radio show.

Clint West

That would be great and spread the word!

Mike Ritchie

A nice read, Clint.
I’m not averse to binning digital tracks/albums, some of which I save beforehand, others not. But, I have a greater reluctance to get rid of CDs, even though I look at some and ask myself why did I buy that, for goodness sake – Scritti Politti, for example.
An occasional feature is my ‘cat track selection’ for the radio show: that’s when our loveable, chocolate Burmese, Chima, wanders into the office we have at home and swipes CDs from a shelf. I close my eyes, pick one up and then pick a track from it for the programme.

Clint West

Hi Mike. Yes it’s always hard to part with stuff. I have pruned my music collection from time to time and there is still plenty that I will probably never listen to again. But there are certain things you just know that you are never going to regret parting with, and yes Scritti Politti are probably amongst them.

Udo Pope

Thanks for the link to your radio show – I listened and liked it a lot, and will definitely be listening to further episodes. It was great to hear Sara Shook played on the radio. I too still buy music in physical form, partly to support the artists, but mainly because having a collection of music prompts me to revisit great music in a way that relying solely on streaming wouldn’t. It’s also a reminder of the more obscure stuff that you used to listen to in years gone by, which I fear I’d otherwise forget. I now mainly buy CDs, most recently a CD by Jake Vaadeland bought at the gig in Manchester last night – where, if I’m not mistaken, I spotted you in the audience!

Clint West

Thanks for listening Udo. Yes, the new Sarah Shook LP is great. I’d loved to have been at the Jake Vaadeland gig but unfortunately had other commitments that night, so whoever the clearly very handsome guy that you saw was, it wasn’t me. Say hello next time.

John Jenkins

Clint, Really enjoyed the article. I actually have a lot of trouble getting rid of my books and so my collection of CDs, LPs, books, DVDs, videocassettes, audio cassettes etc has now grown into something outrageously overwhelming for everyone in our house except to me. Thanks the link to the show, I’ll be delving into these over the next week. For us musicians out there who play and record Americana music is there a specific e-mail address we can submit our releases to for consideration. Best wishes John

dave roth

Sooowwww this (you) are me. My music has always been mine alone, no friends or family have never liked it. One lady who knew I saw the best in unknown unusual music I presented, died suddenly last year. I’ve followed Fairport from before Sandy Denny and still look to AUK for new stuff like Frontier Ruckus. Yeah I’m old and still need new tunes to inspire me to go on … literally. I still like CD’s in the car and experiment as you do. Some day my family will sell my collection which is near 11,000 CD’s, vinyl and singles for a few dollars. Maybe someone will buy something that they like like that they have never heard. I agonize over the bands and performers that never got their real chance. Applause for trying to make others know the real winners, at least in your opinion. My favorite recording of all time: ‘Chance Meyer and the Bloody 98’s’ (from AUK), favorite band Fairport Convention (Richard Thompson…) or Sons Of Bill: blend the Door’s, Richard Shindell, Donovan, and many others to define my likes. Hope to see your unknown and superior views of others. By the way, I’m from a about 30 miles east of Cleveland, Ohio USA and saw Bruce Springsteen near CSU with only about two dozen other in a ‘CROWD’ in his earliest days near the college.
Watch for: Matt Owens, Jerome Forde, Tony Logue, William The Conquerer.