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Book: Turntable Stories

Chapter: Shared Records: Memory, Collecting and Generational Stories

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.46285


1986. A 24-year-old man picks up a copy of The Smiths’ The Queen is Dead from his local record shop in Middlesbrough town centre. He takes it home to his parents’ mid-terrace house, runs up to his bedroom, and places Side A on the turntable. Over the next few months he plays it on repeat, poring over the lyrics inside the record sleeve.

2015. Christmas day and I receive a vintage, brown record box. Inside, there is a curated selection of my dad’s old records, including his copy of The Queen is Dead. The selection of post-punk and indie records symbolise our overlapping musical landscapes. This is the start of my record collection.

2020. I am 24 years old and the UK is in its first Covid pandemic lockdown. Isolated from friends and family, I play my records as a distraction and to track time. My copy of The Queen is Dead crackles as Morrissey’s voice is slightly distorted. Switching to Side B, ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ has seen better days. I have played this record many times but the warped melody is only partially my fault. Rather, the distortion is from my father playing the same record repetitively in 1986.

By inheriting my dad’s record collection, I also inherited his memories. Over time, my mmemories became attached to the records. In some cases, both our stories exist in the grooves of the vinyl. Although the memories attached to the record are different, sharing a music collection reveals our connection to the same music during similar eras of our lives.

Part-memoir and part-essay, this chapter will explore the inheriting of memories through shared possessions. In conversation with John McCarthy, my father, this chapter will explore how music and memory intertwine and how life narratives are threaded together through a shared record collection.

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