I have an announcement of a new scientific discovery to make. One that will rock the world. (no pun intended)

Months of careful testing have proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a weak field emitted by recorded music that causes temporary and reversible memory loss in humans.

Not enough for most people to notice - certainly holding a CD to your ear will produce no noticeable effects whatsoever (except perhaps mockery from observers), and lying on the floor with your head resting on a modest record collection (50-150 vinyl LPs) is only subjecting yourself to a field strong enough to (say) make you forget what cereal had for breakfast this morning or the last three digits of your dentist's phone number.

To have the effect really kick in, you've got to find a sufficiently high density of recorded music, and this is where Record Shop Amnesia gets its title.

Find a well stocked record shop, (one that specialises in rare grooves, funk and jazz perhaps), and stand approximately 30 meters away, on the other side of the street from the storefront. As the strength of the field decreases exponentially with distance you will be safe at this point, and should have little difficulty remembering (for example) which weekday your birthday fell on last year, how long it is since you cleaned behind the fridge, or why pot shouldn’t be decriminalised.

Now walk slowly towards the front entrance of the shop, concentrating carefully (try not to get run over as you cross the street), and you will notice that certain small and less significant facts have started to slip your mind. With each step nearer, the field increases in strength, and you will find that by the time you reach the shop entrance and are looking through the glass you have forgotten a number of semi-important facts.

Ask yourself – what was the year of the first moonwalk? What was the name of the first person you kissed?
.....Shit. It’s gone.
You definitely know, you just can’t remember right now.

Calm down. Breathe deeply. If it’s getting a bit heavy, just turn around and stroll back across the street to the safety zone. It’s OK, there’s a scientific reason for it – trust me, I’m a scientist.

Ready for the big one? Now walk swiftly but calmly into the store. Go right into the middle of the rows of CDs. Let your eye roam casually across some cover artwork. Idly flick through a few titles. Look at the track listings on a couple of albums.

Still don’t believe in this amnesia nonsense? Ok then -

  • What was that album you really wanted last week?
  • Who sung that song you heard on the radio yesterday that you really liked?
  • Name the band that your friend listens to all the time and you have started to enjoy enough to buy their first album.
  • What’s that film soundtrack, you know, from that film you saw on TV, the one with thingy in, the one with the great instrumental by whosits, with him on guitar, the one they ripped off for that car advert?
I rest my case.

The real bugger is that half an hour later, when you’ve purchased a CD that’s really-good-but-not-the-one-you-wanted, and you’re sitting on the bus going home, THEN you’ll remember that you really meant to buy that Gil Scott-Heron album. It’s ok, it’s just Record Shop Amnesia syndrome.

  1. Some people are genetically immune to this effect. They are those people who work in the shop and know everything about music. In actual fact they aren’t as musically omnipotent as they appear, they just have an above-average knowledge and are not affected by the field.
  2. Interestingly, the metal casings of hard disk drives are an effective barrier to the field. That’s why a 20Gb MP3 collection (which would otherwise have catastrophic effects on humans due to the extremely high density of music stored) is relatively safe. I do not advise burning MP3 files onto CDs, or if you must, don’t store more than 3 or 4 discs next to each other – remember, one CDR of MP3 data is eleven times as potent as a CD of audio.
    Beware : a small soft carry-case of MP3 CDs is potentially enough to make you forget your own name.

Right then, I’ll be expecting my Nobel Prize in the post by next Friday.

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