This Saturday, April 17, is Independent Record Store Day worldwide.
Many’s the happy hour I spent in Record World, Tower Records, Dayton’s, Happy Tunes, and more . . . perusing, considering, talking, hanging out, pouncing on something I’d never seen, wondering whether to spend twenty dollars (1972 dollars!) for BUCK MEETS RUBY or EASY NOW. I grew up in suburbia, where every department store had a record section. Those days are mostly gone, although I live near enough to Mr. Cheapo’s to visit, and Academy Records and Second Hand Rose still offer New York thrills.
But here’s novelist Nick Hornby’s commentary, very much to the point:
“Yes, yes, I know it’s easier to download music, and probably cheaper. But what’s playing on your favourite download store when you walk into it? Nothing. Who are you going to meet in there? Nobody. Where are the notice boards offering flat shares and vacant slots in bands destined for superstardom? Who’s going to tell you to stop listening to that and start listening to this? Go ahead and save yourself a couple of quid. The saving will cost you a career, a set of cool friends, musical taste and, eventually, your soul. Record stores can’t save your life. But they can give you a better one.”
I would disagree only with Hornby’s understatement: I think record stores did save my life, or, at least, they helped me find something that has continues to make me very happy.
And he is also correct about the social context: a Jiffy bag with a CD from Amazon through the mail is a great thing, and I am delighted to receive one, but it just isn’t the same as visually eavesdropping on what the fellow in the next browser is looking at or (one afternoon in Dayton’s) getting yelled at my the cashier for making an insufficiently reverent remark about the late Bud Powell record he was playing. Yesterdays, oh, yesterdays!
Thanks to Jim Eigo of Jazz Promo Services for Hornby’s exhortation.