by PETRA MAYER at NPR
NPR reviews, interviews and more
If you’ve ever enjoyed the ghostly weird-old-America wail of Robert Johnson, the deep blues of Charley Patton or Skip James’ guitar wizardry, you can thank the 78 collecting community — those dedicated (okay, obsessive) folks who hunt down the rare old shellac records that hold so much of our musical past.
78s — named for the speed at which they revolve — are the distant ancestors of today’s digitally downloaded singles. They passed out of use in the late 1940s, but still turn up occasionally at rural flea markets and in dusty cartons under forgotten beds. And for the passionate collector, there’s always the thrill of possibility: a grimy old record at the flea market could be the only existing copy of that particular song.
Music writer Amanda Petrusich documents the 78 collecting scene — and how she got drawn into it — in a new book, Do Not Sell at Any Price. In an email interview, she tells me she has a lot in common with the collectors she profiles. READ MORE