Record Store Day

16 04 2008

Folks who work here are professors

Don’t replace all the knowers

with guessors

Keep’em open

they’re the ears of the town

-Tom Waits

Chez Bez, who is a Renaissance man if you didn’t know, has been talking about Record Store Day for several weeks. He mentions the time he spent at Turtle’s Music on Nolensville Road. I used to hang out there too when I live in Nashville, and even earlier than that, I can remember Big Daddy taking me to Pop Tunes in Memphis when I was a kid. I loved going to buy a “record.” And, my first record was Paul Revere and The Raiders followed by “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. Small 45’s where I had to put this plastic thing in the center so it would play on the record player.

Chez Bez says this:

With so many good music sites around, I’m probably exposed to more of it now than I was then. It’s just the social aspect of it all that I miss. I work in a hotel now and while I still talk music and bands with some friends, it’s not at the level that it was at the record shop. Back then a customer would interrupt a conversation about music to ask a question about music. Now my customers interrupt to talk about boring things like checking in. In my record store days we’d clock out and go to the Boardwalk Cafe to listen to more music and discuss it some more. Now my friends are married, moved away, or both and I just come home to read about bands on various music blogs and other sites. While blogs can be fun, they don’t quite match the experience of sharing a booth at a bar with friends while a cover band plays CCR and Mitch Ryder songs.

I found myself becoming nostalgic reading his post. Cat’s also was another haunt as well as The Great Escape, where I would take what little money I had for a new album or cassette and a book for under $5.

April 19 is Record Store Day. You may call me sentimental if you want about this ‘holiday’ because I am. Buying music has evolved where there is more access to downloading any song you want for a dollar these days, but sometimes just roaming stores would be the best timewaster I could think of. Seeing new work being released that I didn’t know about was always a surprise and a joyful one at that.

Henry Rollins said this:

“I have watched independent record stores evaporate all over America and Europe. That’s why I go into as many as I can and buy records whenever possible. If we lose the independent record store, we lose big. Every time you buy your records at one of these places, it’s a blow to the empire.”

Record stores are falling into the mist of history.





One response

16 04 2008

I spent a significant portion of the hours of my first 13 years of life at Leach’s Music off the court square in downtown Paris. I was mostly local shop-less throughout the rest of junior high and high school but managed to get by via mail order and (believe it or not) the local Wal-Mart, and every trip to Jackson included a stop at a record store, the name of which now escapes me.

I flatly LIVED at Cat’s during college, so much so that when they were opening in Memphis some years later and I applied for (and got) a job, one of the Cat’s longtimers knew exactly who I was upon sight.

It is very odd to me how little of the last decade I have spent in a record store, other than spending hours poring through the unlabeled racks of a used CD store (which is now gone as well and don’t seem to be many around anymore either). If what sounds like wonderful Grimey’s in Nashville were here, I’d probably still go.

As it is, the mighty record stores of Tennessee are few and far between now. Disc Exchange West in Knoxville closed in February though I believe the South store is still open. Pop Tunes in Memphis is extinct and the once huge and heralded Cat’s flagship store here looks to be about the size of a broom closet now. Some small town stores (like Leach’s) carry on but I expect the majority of their inventory these are instruments and electronics, not CDs and other musica. A few independents in the cities carry on, I can’t imagine how they’re really getting by these days though.

The record store is becoming a thing of the past. Sad.

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