Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Old Record Store

[image from google images]

Yesterday, they were talking on the news about how the old music stores are closing up, since the advent of itunes and on-line shopping. This, to me, is a great shame.

My love of music goes all the way back. My dad was a professional musician. I remember the excitement on a weekend when he would bring home some new albums, and the wonderful music of my parents' day ringing out: Stardust, I'll Get By, Skylark, Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe, Some Gets In Your Eyes. It is the music that most calls to me, still, the tunes that accompanied my childhood.

When I was twelve, I began earning money babysitting. In those days, you did the dishes, tidied the house, put the kids to bed, and babysat till midnight for a dollar and a quarter.  A night, not an hour:) I remember it taking me about four nights of babysitting, over the course of a month, to buy my first 33&1/3. And how my dad hovered, concerned, when I put my first 45 on the record player. As the first mellow tones of Twilight Time were heard, he relaxed, and said "I guess I dont have to worry about your taste in music." High praise!

I had a beaten up used record player like the one above. Through my teens, I lived for my hours alone in my room, when I would turn it on, lift the needle carefully over, place it on the edge, and wait for the scratching sound, and then the music, to which I sang and howled for hours, with all the angst of those years.

All of my life, my greatest delight has been in browsing through a music shop, coming upon albums I simply had to have, and walking out, terribly satisfied, with a bag full of new music.

Right before Christmas, my sister and I made a shopping trip to Courtenay, as has become a custom for us every year in December. I had not planned on buying anything for myself, given all the gifts I had to buy this year. But when I came upon k.d. lang's Retrospective, which is on my stereo right now, I carried it to the counter, telling Lori, "I just cant leave this here." It was my Christmas gift to myself.

It is sad to hear of music stores closing their doors. Yes, itunes and ordering online  is convenient and fast. But we are missing a whole cultural component of walking the aisles, seeing all that musicians have to offer, discovering what is new, what is happening, albums we hadnt heard about and, occasionally, feeling compelled by forces unknown to purchase an album just by the look and "feel" of the cover, and discovering, when we put it on the car cd player that we have just purchased our favorite album of all time.

It is cool, too, to talk to the staff, always knowledgeable about music, and to sometimes bump into a musician in the stacks, browsing the titles.

Making a mouse-click  can never provide the thrill of walking out of the store happy, your latest treasures in your arms, when you cant get home fast enough to put it on the stereo and have it serenade the coming weeks and months.

Back In the Day, music stores were a gathering place, a place of culture and connection, of support for struggling artists, a place of choice, a citadel of dreams.

I hope some of them will always be around.


  1. I guess so much you say, could be applied to different things. Things just aren't the same...everything changes. Music helps us to remember. A song comes on, and suddenly you are somewhere, you had forgotten, and you are right there, again. All part of the magic. Smells, too.

  2. I remember those days, Sherry. Cleaning vinyl with a velvet bristled brush, and weighing down a skipping needle with pennies. Happy times.

  3. thanks for the memories Sherry...I live in a great place in the world and so do you..spent much time on the Gulf Islands..and West Coast of Van Island...your photo is great...think I have been there....and thanks for sharing your words and blog...happy trails


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