Saturday, April 16, 2011

Record-Store Day

Break out your turntables, youngsters! It's Record Store Day!

In my town, the participating store is a located in strip-mall hell, not next to Wal-Mart, but you have to traverse the traffic of Wal-Mart and Target and a home-improvement store to get there. It's in a smaller strip mall, next to a dry-cleaner and a mattress store.

Like a lot of record stores, mine is also a music store more generally: much of the back is given over to equipment, guitars hang from the ceilings, and even the media section has DVDs and cassettes scattered among the CDs and vinyl. Hell, they probably sell paraphenalia back there someplace. The counter is littered with stickers and patches and guitar strings and picks. Someone is always conversing with the guy at the counter, Hi-Fidelity-style.

It's a gritty, righteous place, is what I'm saying.

I rarely go: it's hard to get in & out of, parking is annoying, and much of the stuff seems aimed at young men in their late 20s for whom Korn represented the pinnacle of their musical experience. I can find what I want more easily online.


I miss that aura. I admit it. I remember the joy of finding something completely unexpected in a bin, often a work by a band I liked. I remember buying records from clerks who gave you the fish-eye for your choices. (I once had to dress down a clerk for splitting up XTC's Waxworks and Beeswax and trying to sell them as separate records. I bought them, but I paid the double-album price, not the two singles like the guy wanted.) I remember happening across The Vapors' Magnets and nearly dropping dead: hell, I could barely find New Clear Days, and that had a hit! I remember the magical moment when I first laid eyes on Black Vinyl Shoes. (God bless you, Marty Scott: you must have had that record in every store in America if I found it in the mall in my shithole town.) I remember surreptitiously looking over the shoulders of good-looking strangers to see if they were worth talking to based on what they were looking at, and sometimes deciding that they were.

I miss it. I'm gonna hit my place today, maybe with my older kids, to show them what I call my butter-churning skills. You never know when you're gonna need them.

Dig Alex's expert flip!


edward said...

Our last record store disappeared years ago. I, too, miss the aura of the record store and the thrill of the hunt. True,you can get almost anything online, but it is not the same as the great accidental discoveries you made digging through the cutout record bin or the badly alphabetized used section.
Nonetheless, Record Store Day is being celebrated for the first time here: at a local antique mall where the guy with overpriced used LPs does business.
Heavy sigh.

steve simels said...

There's a place like this one the main drag in Hackensack, not too far from me. I've never been though -- I really have to kill an afternoon there one of these days.

Gummo said...

Back in the eighties, every other Friday when I got paid, I would head down to Greenwich Village and do a grand circuit of the bootleg record stores, some barely bigger than closets and located below street level, searching for some newly leaked gem that would make my life complete.

It was a wonderful ritual and one that is certainly not replaced by scanning bittorrent and music download sites....

Anonymous said...

You have no idea how much I miss opening the store on a Saturday morning, and watching all the music weenies roll on in. My alma mater (closed 1996) was far more than a store - it was really a CLUBHOUSE.(And a far more pleasurable way than most to make a semi-decent living.) To this day, I can't go out in public w/o stumbling across someone that I once sold a bunch of records to. It really was a way of life...
Most (all?) of the cool Boston stores are now long gone, but I nonetheless hit the local chain this morning to pay tribute to the holiday that is RSD. Made me happy to see kids shopping for vinyl. - bill buckner