The day the music died...
I have long given up actually getting assistance from the snot-nosed kids working at today’s record store that were mere twinkles in their parents’ eye when Frampton Comes Alive came out. Their nametag might shout out an Irish name, but I have yet to find a kid in the aisles that knows the difference between the Cranberries and Thin Lizzy the way Mike Marrone might.
But I miss the spontaneous critical debates that would break out in the aisles and the camaraderie sparked by a shared musical passion. I recently took up bass playing, which has led me to a new appreciation of funk, jazz and reggae.
A pretentious, portly jazz snob was hovering around the Miles Davis section at Virgin the last time I visited there, and while his condescending tone was an annoying garnish, he did serve me with a meaty run through of must have jazz compilations that I would never get if I had to click my way through Amazon.
I will also miss the community that would break out in the aisles of the Irish music section, tucked within the folk genre. I’d often strike up a conversation about my favorites with the other customers, and I am sure I single-handedly brought platinum status to back catalogs from the likes of Christy Moore, Clannad and Dervish.
I am a huge fan of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and the portability of my music library. I feel completely nude if I walk out of the house without at least 15,000 songs on my iPod.
Still, I also find myself missing the days when album artwork was as stimulating as the music inside of it.
I bought the Blondie "Parallel Lines" album because Debbie Harry was wearing nothing but a slip and a pair of Candies; I tucked that under the mattress because that and the JC Penney’s bra catalogue were the closest things to printed partially undressed female shapes that I could get my hormonal hands on at the time. It was a more innocent time back then, one that someone born of the digital age just won’t understand.
New technology develops by the nanosecond and it usually yields progress, but I for one am not ready to let go of the record shop entirely. To many of us out there, music means a lot more than Chris Brown or Britney Spears.
The music moves us and the album is a work of art to be judged as a whole, and not as a $.99 per click transaction. The more record stores close, the more we lose on that proposition.
Are you ready to give up on your local record store community? If not, let’s make a resolution that like a kid with a lemonade stand, we’ll vow never to pass one by without buying something.