Revisiting Records in a New Way
Records Revisited is an entertaining podcast that combines thought-provoking conversations and music nerd-style rankings.
In this week’s issue of Michael’s Record Collection, I want to talk about an alternate way to enjoy music. At some point, most of us have gathered with other people to listen to music and have dissected the album through conversation. Many of us have made mix tapes or playlists. If you’ve done any of those things, I’d like to introduce you to a podcast that makes music more fun.
Music permeates my life. When I’m not actively listening to music, I probably have it on in the background. When I don’t have any music available, I often think about bands, albums, or what song might be appropriate for a certain situation I’m in. And music also encroaches on other hobbies I have. For example, I like to read books about musicians, producers, and the making of great albums. As someone who hosts two podcasts, I also enjoy checking out what other people are doing, and there are some excellent and entertaining music podcasts available. Today, I’m discussing one of those.
There are a lot of podcasts that play music. Many podcasts talk about music and some of them discuss albums track by track. Others simply review the record and offer opinions. But Records Revisited, “a podcast dedicated to the magic of music,” is a little different. Ben Montgomery and his co-host Wayne Fugate talk about a record with a guest in a fun way.
“We are a podcast that talks about music. That’s essentially what it is,” Montgomery said. “We have guests on for almost every episode — mostly musicians, but we do run the gamut. We’ve had some authors on. We’ve had Alexi Lalas, who is a soccer player, but he’s also a music nerd. We’ve had Dale Murphy, an MVP from the Atlanta Braves. Really it’s just people talking about a record that they love.”
What makes it so fun to listen to is that everyone on the show must really think critically about every song, because they have to rank the tracks to determine the top songs on the album.
“Our premise is a little bit different because we make our guest score the record from favorite to least favorite,” Montgomery explains. “And then we come up with a top five based on our cumulative scores, which sometimes makes the guest hate us. We’ve been called bastards before by a couple of our guests for making them score a record that they cherish and love. But I think by doing it this way we’ve really got some great conversations.”
Guests (and hosts) on Records Revisited have to put a lot of thought into each song on a favorite album to determine the nuances that might be the difference between their third-favorite song on an album and their fourth (for example). It’s about more than just saying they like a song or love a song. They must really dive deep to figure out why.
Some of the fun happens when the hosts and/or guests disagree strongly about which songs are among the best on an album and which are near the bottom. One person will try to explain what it is about a song that speaks to them and it truly illustrates how different music hits people differently.
Montgomery (the host on the east coast) and Fugate (the co-host from the left coast) are friends and music enthusiasts who would often text one another to ask their counterpart to rattle off a musical top 10 list of some sort — kind of a virtual version of the types of conversations in the record store in the film High Fidelity.
The duo birthed Records Revisited at a time of difficulty in their lives. With a long commute, Montgomery couldn’t find a podcast about music that he liked. He talked Fugate into starting up a podcast with him. He figured other people might enjoy the kinds of conversations the two were having.
After a period with just the two of them, Montgomery started inviting guests on the show. They soon settled into a regular format, complete with the all-important question at the start of each show.
“What t-shirt are you wearing?”
“It’s been there from the beginning,” Montgomery said of the segment. “Wayne has a closet full of t-shirts. We thought it would be fun as an icebreaker to just talk about some of his t-shirts. Then he decided, ‘I’m going to wear a different t-shirt for every single episode.’ And I’m like, ‘OK, but we’re doing this for the longhaul, you realize that?’ So, we’ve done over 180 episodes. Wayne is on about 165 of them and he has not worn a single shirt more than once on the podcast.
“Our guests love us because sometimes he will come prepared and he will have bought a shirt off of their website.”
Ben said that Wayne will often shop for t-shirts online while he’s interviewing the guest. The two hosts are even offering up some shirts — from Wayne’s closet full of them — as Patreon giveaways.
Despite having a growing audience and a cool concept, the guys at Records Revisited aren’t looking to make their everyday living off the podcast. For them it’s a passion project they do for fun on the side.
“It’s me and Wayne, so it would have to be big enough so that it could sustain both of us,” Montgomery said. “Both of us make OK money at what we’re doing and I don’t think we would ever get to the point that it would sustain both of us. Second thing is, I don’t know if it turns into a job, would the passion still be there?”
That passion is clear when you listen to Records Revisited or speak to Montgomery. The magic of music is real and it drives what he and Fugate are doing on the podcast.
I recommend scrolling through their shows on your podcast-catching device and looking for a guest or an album that you like and giving it a listen. If you like it, it will become another way to enjoy music. Here’s how you can find them:
I hope you enjoy this slightly different way of diving into your favorite albums as much as I do. You can see my full interview with Ben Montgomery below.