In 2007 my father traveled to Mexico for the first time. Of course, upon returning home came the long-awaited session of slapping: to tear the suitcases and cause them to bleed until only the dirty clothes remain, if any.
My most coveted order was a Yonex badminton racket, the Porsche of badminton rackets. Then I started playing against the wall of the dining room without paying much attention to my mother's desperate screams, afraid that the steering wheel would do some damage. Suddenly my dad gives me his characteristic whistle and says “Ah! Look what else I brought you. ” No response from me. He whistles again and yells at me “Ivan-ci-tooo look here!” Then I looked.
He showed me in his hands the DVD Total Access from the Mexican pop rock band Maná (What? We all have a dark past. We all have spots on the file. We were all that age, right?). The wall won me the set. I left the racket and the steering wheel lying on the ground and prepared to break the nylon to appreciate that object. Then the magic happened. That box digipack (The name of the format I knew years later), with that texture so pleasant to the touch, with that strangely pleasant smell, with a book inside, with photographs, with a documentary of the favorite band of my childhood and adolescence, which I did not have the slightest idea of its existence, glared at me. I ran to insert it into the computer (it wasn't until the second trip we had a DVD player) and I saw it three times in a row that night.
Hasta entonces la música entraba a mi casa a través de un hombre que venía cada vez que lo llamábamos, con los últimos discos del momento envueltos en una gran maleta negra, por un valor de 3 CUC. Eran piratas, por supuesto, con carátulas mal impresas y los nombre escritos a mano en los CDs con plumón permanente. De hecho, en mi infancia más temprana me preguntaba cómo era que estos vendedores (padres de los paqueteros actuales) pagaban a los “Bad Streets Boys” con lo complicado que era negociar con los extranjeros en aquella época. Tiempo después descubrí dos cosas muy importantes: que en realidad se llamaban Backstreet Boys y que las portadas no se hacían en Power Point, que el Power Point no era una herramienta de diseño profesional.
Thus began this fetish of mine. I stopped asking for rackets and videogames from those who were traveling and discovered that there were also music stores here. Hey, but these are more expensive than the ones Tatico brings. Only those in good faith mom, I promise. Well, save. I finally have them all! Well, now Hard Currency ... X Alfonso ... Silvio Ugh, how expensive these! ... And so ... Upon completing the discographies of my national favorites I felt a certain emptiness. And I started shopping according to the designs. Yes, it became a vice that bordered the pathological. But thanks to that I discovered wonderful works like The miraculous islandby William Vivanco, The machineryby Juan Formell and Los Van Van, In guarandinga throughout Cuba, by Rita del Prado and the Karma Duo, among others.
Today, among CDs, DVDs and vinyl, my collection is around 500 records. 500 albums in which you can clearly read the evolution of my musical taste, openings to new genres and, of course, not a few stories of affections. And there it is Total Access, of Mana, of course, for unleashing this storm; Second date, by Silvio Rodríguez, that my sister gave me when I graduated from pre-university; John Lennon Anthology, my first box set and door to a beautiful relationship and other microworlds; Live, first that I had of the wonderful lefty; Euphoria, the first album I heard from Fito Páez and recently autographed; Grace, by Yaíma Orozco and Alfred Artigas, first I receive from the musician himself; Live In New Yorkfrom Jack White, my first bootleg that this brother gave me who I refuse to call brother-in-law; two street bands from New Orleans that an aunt brought me that I still don't understand how I won for me; Walking trails, from Santiago Feliú, thanks to a namesake friend who disappeared from my life but I still love; Skeleton tree, from Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, who accompanied me during the most painful episode I experienced; until Fifth floor, by Ricardo Arjona with whom my paternal grandmother surprised me once (of course not in the same way she expected).
Throughout these years I have always been asked the same question: Come here boy, why do you buy records? Throughout these years the response has evolved since: Well ... because ... because ... they sound better. Passing through: because a record is the result of the work of a group of people and it is not fair that we consume it without paying it back, it is as if you ate in a restaurant and did not pay the bill. And coming to: because I feel like it.
Buying records I learned to value them and understand them as complete works and not as a package of disjointed songs. Today, in full swing of the playlists and being a millennial, there is no one who makes me hear anything in random. Through the credits that come in them I got to know and understand the different roles involved in the creation of an album: "This has a sound reminiscent of Radiohead ... Ah, of course, the producer was Nigel Godrich!"; or: "I love the guitar on this subject ... Ugh, Emilio Martiní!"
I really enjoy my collection. Every so often I sit on the floor, facing the shelf that keeps them, and from there I look at them. Sometimes I take out some and leaf through them. Other times I invite someone to the ritual and I share stories related to them. I clean them. I'm always looking for moisture products to protect them. I never lend them. I rarely returned those who lent me. Whoever wants to see them sees them in my hands. My records are my precious gollum gollum. So much that I dare to write my hobby and send it to a specialized music magazine.
Hunting discs is very much enjoyed. Every time I travel to some province I dig into each store, hoping to find copies that no longer exist in Havana. I remember an occasion when I found between Cienfuegos and Santa Clara on Breathe, the Greatest Hits, and the Live At Ronnie Scotts's from Yusa, at such a good price that I bought two copies of each. There is also long-distance hunting, which is always a mess for any friend @ traveler. For this I consume a few hours and megabytes of data checking stores on-line of the countries they visit, checking availability and calculating prices according to exchange rates, to finally give them tables with priorities and conditions, whose complexity borders on Etecsa's plans. My last obsession has been to get at least one copy of each version of each Santiago album. For this I have had to resort to friends in Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Colombia and Chile, who have not only helped me managing purchases and shipments, but have also surprised me with extra records or forgiving debts. But what really surprises me the most is that they keep answering my messages.
It is widely known and trite to repeat: that the sales of music in physical format have diminished in recent years as a result of the rise of digital sales and services streaming. The big music stores are reduced and the small ones go bankrupt. With this scenario it is easy to arrive at the prediction that the discs will disappear soon. I, contrary to this overwhelming logic, think not.
The second argument I have is to analyze the consequences of the emergence of other technologies in the past: photography did not end with painting, nor did cinema disrupt theater, and we are still making bows, arrows and crossbows. In all cases, new technologies far from extinguishing their predecessors, made them evolve. Quite evident in the double painting-photography: when the second arises, the need disappears for the first to represent reality as it is and then other styles and movements appear with great aesthetic differences, and not only thematic ones, such as expressionism, abstraction ...
Seeing this, I prefer to predict that the physical format as a support for the distribution of music will not cease to exist, it should only adapt and evolve. Most of today's great artists prefer this format and many carry out different actions to favor it: there are the spectacular special editions of Steven Wilson and Radiohead; Adele delaying the digital launch of several months 25 with respect to physical release; Jack White and his Third Man Records label releasing exclusive materials, etc.
The first argument is simple: I don't want it, because clicking or touching a screen with a finger will never be as exciting as breaking a nylon. At this point (or even before), you should think that I have an overflowed ego or that I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one. And I hope someday you'll join us.