Record Collecting for Girls by Courtney E. Smith was a runaway delight. I have to confess, at first I was a little bit intimidated by the “for girls” qualifier. Not that I shy away from literature with a prediminently female audience in mind, but the “for girls” label right there in the title was daunting (I mean, what if somebody saw me reading it?). Yet I persevered, and I am SO glad that I did.
Have you ever wondered what you would have been like if you would have been born as a member of the opposite sex (not in a weird, creepy way; more in a child-like, curious way)? Well I think I found my answer in Courtney Smith. She’s like my musical soulmate, only more so. She’s basically me, only a girl that also just so happens to have been working in the music industry for over ten years.
That’s right, in addition to being an excellent writer and totally cool, she spent eight years at MTV, specializing in grooming upcoming bands, including Death Cab for Cutie, the Shins, and Vampire Weekend. How awesome is that? And you get to read all about it in the book.
It doesn’t say exactly how old she is, but I can tell from some of the dates she mentions, the music she was into at certain periods, and her vernacular that we are just about exactly the same age. As she talked about the music she was listening to, in high school, in college, it was a lot of the exact same music I was listening to at those same times.
She takes you through how to establish and talk intelligently about your top-five favorite bands, what constitutes a guilty pleasure (we all have them), and about a billion other fun, thought-provoking, entertaining things.
She has some really intelligent and insightful things to say about the music industry. For example, she states that:
the masses are driven by the lowest common denominator: whatever the least (educated/cultured/knowledgable) among the masses like is catered to by corporations in order to make the most money. In some instances widely popular music can be good, but in other cases you get throwaway music like…
She then goes on to name a few. I don’t want to offend anyone, or give away the surprise, but it is hilarious. She is hilarious!
She has a whole section on The Smiths and what liking The Smiths says about you and why you should never date a boy that is too into The Smiths. She goes into great detail, and if you have ever known or dated a boy that was into The Smiths, her analysis probably has merit. The short and sweet version: “[r]omantic love can be an eternal dissapointment after true maternal love.” Beware the mama’s boy girls, especially those with apron strings still attached.
One of my favorite sections of the book was her chapter on breaking up, taking you through the stages of a breakup (i.e. angry, sad, begging, kiss-off), and the music you should listen to in each. Brilliant!
For an example of her attitude on dating, at one point she offers: “I break up with the determination to stay that way and subscribe to the school of thought that says ‘It didn’t work out, you can die now.” YES! I LOVE this girl! Later she writes: “I have an affinity for difficult men.” I want to date her SO bad! If I was single, Courtney, you would have your hands full…
She talks about what we have discussed elsewhere on the blog regarding knowledge and writing, only applying it to literature. When people criticize those who seek inspiration from other songs or artists, she says, quoting Ecclisiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” In other words, nothing is truly, truly original. If it inspires you, if it makes people happy, and ends in the appreciation of good music, get over it!
She also has some quirky insights on the apparent Beatles vs. Stones debate (no debate in my mind: Beatles all the way!). But she goes further into what either preference might say about a girl, and, in light of that analysis, I could see the merits in buying a Stones girl a drink.
I LOVED the book! Could not put it down! And guys, don’t be deterred by the “for girls” in the title. Granted, as I told you above, I listen to a lot of the music she listens to (i.e. The Cranberries, Fiona Apple, Death Cab), so maybe I am completely biased and other guys would read this book and say “ewww.” On the other hand, it had some great insights into the female psyche, how they think, and what their music says about them. Nothing un-guy about trying to figure out how the female mind works, and how to make that work for you. Get it, read it! Courtney, you are freaking awesome! (call me…)