I HAVE an addiction. But my problem (and I count my lucky stars for this) doesn’t extend to harmful substances. Instead, I’m hooked on something else entirely – my need to obtain a complete collection of some type of thing or another. I’m a “completist”.

The inconsequential nature of my “issue” is not lost on me. And to describe it as an addiction may be pushing it. But as with other first world problems – like not being able to find the end of the sellotape or losing half your dunked biscuit in a cup of tea – it’s up there with the most trivial of dilemmas.

So where’s the harm? A third of people in the UK collect something. You name it (and feel free to let your imagination run wild here), I guarantee someone out there will be hoarding it.

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But it can be a heavy burden to bear. My obsession revolves around acquiring as many records, documentaries, books, magazines, etc that have either been produced by or are about two giants of popular music – Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

With back catalogues extending nearly 60 years each, the choice is staggering. And just like pushers, their respective record companies are experts at drip-feeding fans product – teasing out bootlegs, archived material, old concerts and countless song versions for mugs like me to splash out on.

If keeping ageing rock stars topped up in caviar and classic cars was a past-time, then I’ve been a willing contributor for years. I dread to think about the hundreds of pounds I’ve spent. But before I start sounding too creepy, I have enough self awareness to know there are limits to my obsession. Indeed, this article is in some ways a manifestation of that.

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I’m sure there will be deep psychological driving forces at play. Perhaps I subconsciously felt deprived as a child and now seek comfort in meaningless material things. Who knows?

It might even be natural. The need to cache items is visible in many species, as seen in squirrels, woodpeckers and moles. However, the desire to collect stuff purely for the satisfaction of possessing them is uniquely human.

For me completism isn’t necessarily about fandom per se. It’s more about the sense of reward you get from finding that obscure recording. The down side of hoarding, however, is the irrational anxiety it can create if you are unable to obtain the record you “must” have.

Any sensible person could reasonably argue that the multitude of streamed content on offer has rendered the concept of completism redundant. After all, nearly every song ever made is at the end of a swipe on your phone.

But this ignores the pleasure derived from simply owning the physical item in the first place. The joy of holding a limited edition LP or import with that elusive extra song. I'm guessing the thousands of enthusiasts who attend record store days feel the same way. A phenomenon known as the endowment effect describes our tendency to value things more once we own them. I fear I’m edging into that category.

Just last weekend Young released a tranche of “official bootleg” recordings from the early 70s. I won’t rush out and buy them – even I can see they’re playing me for a sucker. But I know full well the temptation will prove too great and the records will eventually find their way on to my shelves.

A friend once asked me how many versions of “Like A Rolling Stone” does anyone need to own? I sagely replied I didn’t have a clue, but if there is a number, it’s not enough. It’s just never enough.


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