"Midlife crises come in all shapes and sizes. One fellow’s sports car is another’s replaced baseball card collection. Perhaps one of the more nostalgic pursuits is the return to collecting vinyl, not for the young and hip, but for the middle aged among us who dumped our collections at yard sales and second-hand stores. But for Eric Spitznagel, a Men’s Health editor who has also interviewed the who’s who of showbiz, it’s not about replacing his records with reasonable facsimiles – he wants the exact same copies, and he’s come up with a list of titles with enough identifying marks, stickers, scribbles, and scratches, to think he can pull this off. The result is a manic quest, infused with musical memories, outrageous stunts, and shockingly enough, even some triumphs."— Daniel Goldin
If you are old enough, or retro enough, I'm sure you remember that one album you owned that, despite its scratches, pops, and smudges, you swore you would hold onto until the day you died. Well, you failed to do that, but you still remember the exact spot on that one song where your copy had an especially pronounced pop or hiss or skip. Even now it's how you hear the song in your head. If that song plays from someone else's album, it just sounds wrong! For me, that album was Led Zeppelin's first record, and the song was Your Time Is Gonna Come. You know it, the one with that extended organ prelude. Well, my copy had this huge scratch. Right there. Right smack in the middle of that introduction. If you stole my copy, I would know it immediately from that scratch. To this day, even though I haven't listened to that particular record in decades, it's how I hear it in my head. This book is about that. Sort of. It's about the author's singleminded drive to recover his record collection twenty some odd years after unloading it in favor of CDs. He doesn't want to simply replace his old vinyl with new copies. He wants the exact ones he got rid of all those years ago. He will know them from the scratches that he remembers with precision ... he will know them from the ex-girlfriend's phone number scrawled across the dust jacket ... from the partially torn sticker that identified it as a radio station's promo copy (not for sale!)... from the boot print on the cover from that all too wild party. Is this crazy? Sure! Funny? As all hell! This is a unique and infinitely entertaining little masterpiece about finding what you've lost and coming to grips with at long last becoming an adult.— Conrad Silverberg
A Hudson Booksellers Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year, with foreword by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy
High Fidelity meets Killing Yourself to Live when one man searches for his lost record collection.
As he finds himself within spitting distance of middle-age, journalist Eric Spitznagel feels acutely the loss of… something. Freedom? Maybe. Coolness? Could be. The records he sold in a financial pinch? Definitely. To find out for sure, he sets out on a quest to find the original vinyl artifacts from his past. Not just copies. The exact same records: The Bon Jovi record with his first girlfriend's phone number scrawled on the front sleeve. The KISS Alive II he once shared with his little brother. The Replacements Let It Be he’s pretty sure, 20 years later, would still smell like weed.
As he embarks on his hero's journey, he reminisces about the actual records, the music, and the people he listened to it with—old girlfriends, his high school pals, and, most poignantly, his father and his young son. He explores the magic of music and memory as he interweaves his adventures in record-culture with questions about our connection to our past, the possibility of ever recapturing it, and whether we would want to if we could.
"Memories are far more indelible when married to the physical world, and Spitznagel proves the point in this vivid book. We love vinyl records because they combine the tactile, the visual, the seeable effects of age and care and carelessness. When he searches for the records he lost and sold, Spitznagel is trying to return to a tangible past, and he details that process with great sensitivity and impact."—Dave Eggers, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle
About the Author
Eric Spitznagel writes for magazines like Playboy, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Men’s Health, Billboard, The Believer, and the New York Times Magazine, among many others. He’s the author of six books, one of which was translated into German and features a cat on the cover for no apparent reason. He lives in Chicago with his wife and son, the latter of whom wants to be a “mad scientist” when he grows up. (That’s now in print, so the author intends to hold him to it.)
“Calling someone’s work Nick Hornby-like is a bit cliché, but Spitznagel gives high fidelity to Hornby’s feel for music and its relationship to life.”
—New York Post
“In this, Old Records Never Die finds its true purpose. It’s a classic, High Fidelity-esque revelation that has Spitznagel in the midst of a 'what does it all mean?' moment wherein he begins exploring what-if situations and finding that things often pan out just as they should.”
“Spitznagel knows that a good story can sometimes lead to a greater truth.”
“Think of it as an updated version of High Fidelity.”
—Pause and Play.com
"Memories are far more indelible when married to the physical world, and Spitznagel proves the point in this vivid book. We love vinyl records because they combine the tactile, the visual, the seeable effects of age and care and carelessness. When he searches for the records he lost and sold, Spitznagel is trying to return to a tangible past, and he details that process with great sensitivity and impact."
—Dave Eggers, author of The Circle
“Spitznagel's quest for the actual records of his youth could have been a gimmick. Instead it's a touching exploration of loss: of opportunities, of loved ones, of the ability to even remotely discern what's hip. Hilarious and heartfelt, this is a book for anyone who has ever spent entire years of their lives haunting record stores, dissecting the merits of Doolittle, and studying liner notes with the intense focus of a Talmudic scholar.”
—Jancee Dunn, author of But Enough About Me
“I’m working on a list of things that make me laugh harder than Eric Spitznagel’s writing. So far, it includes old Albert Brooks movies, videos of animals riding bicycles and…well, that’s about it. What I’m trying to say is: Eric Spitznagel is hilarious. And this book is perfectly Spitzagelian: Funny, smart, even a bit wistful at times. The way he feels about the Pixies – that’s similar to the way I feel about Spitznagel’s writing.”
–AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically
“A funny and heartfelt memoir about music collecting that gives birth to a new branch of social science: Gen-X archaeology.”—Neal Pollack, author of Alternadad
“The perfect combination of a vinyl completist's dream and nightmare.”
—Patton Oswalt, author of Zombie Spaceship Wasteland
"To say Old Records Never Die is a book about music is to say On The Road is a book about cars. Really, Eric Spitznagel's energetic and endlessly engaging memoir is a book about the ways we seek to discover and recover our essential selves. Music lovers will love this book; unrepentant nostalgiacs, like myself, can expect to be absolutely riveted.”
—Davy Rothbart, creator of Found Magazine and author of My Heart is an Idiot
“I can't remember when a book had me get out my black pen and underline so many wonderful things. Maybe never. Loss and laughter and all those denizens of sonic ghost town record stores willing but often unable to make us all whole again. Something on every page to stoke the geek heart with sad recognition and hope."
—Marc Spitz, author of Poseur: A Memoir of Downtown New York City in the 90s
"Eric Spitznagel is just like Captain Ahab, if Ahab were chasing Billy Joel albums instead of a white whale. As he recounts in this very funny book, Spitznagel found way more than he bargained for. And just like Ahab, he dies in the end. (Spoiler alert.)"
—Rob Tannenbaum, co-author of I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution