Record Store Day, April 19, 2008
Saturday is Record Store Day.
All my working life, when I wasn't playing music, I worked in record stores (or music departments of stores). It was the perfect job for a music geek like myself. All that incredibly trivial knowledge of songs, albums, bands, musicians, producers, liner notes and catalog numbers became valuable stuff, certainly better than boring people at parties with it. I was in my element. I could foist my own tastes on others, dissuade people from buying Chuck Berry's hits on Mercury Records and Everlys remakes on Warner Brothers. I got first dibs on the copy of Paris 1919 that came into the store. I could study the Phonolog and the Schwann catalog. I could do displays for Marshall Crenshaw's debut album after work and, as I stapled posters to the wall, know that Marshall, were he in my position, would undoubtedly be doing the same thing for me. The music mattered, and I got to be the conduit to the general populace, armed to the teeth with new releases and fabulous reissues.
When The dB's were on the road in the 1980's, we always tried to get to record stores in towns where we played. The folks who worked there were inevitably informed and cool, many of whom are great friends of ours to this day. Will and I, in particular, hunkered down over rows and rows of LP's, and we looked forward to our in-store appearances as it provided us with much-needed time for shopping afterward!
Now, with the state of things being what they are for music, I might have to sit down and explain to my two younger children what 'record stores' were and possibly not have physical evidence for them to understand what Dad worked at.
We just lost Schoolkids Records in Chapel Hill, a fine record store with a vast history.
Fortunately, here in Durham, I am able to shop at Offbeat Music at Brightleaf Square. There's plenty of vinyl there, both new and used, in and amongst the CD's and DVD's (and posters and shirts). I will be there tomorrow to show my support for something that has always meant a lot to me, especially after losing all my 45's in Hurricane Katrina.
A record store is the irreplaceable gathering spot for those to whom music means everything. Even if we shop in different aisles, and you're buying the new Larry Carlton and I'm buying the first Can album, we're drawn together in there, and neither of us is able to satisfy our musical needs and wants with the twenty titles that Wal-Mart thinks are what we should buy. It's our general store, our salon, our think tank and our love nest.
Meet you there.