I left with a few Mamas & Papas records, a Spike Jones box set that included one of three songs I know of with my name in it, and a recording of the Beatles playing live in Hamburg, Germany before they were THE BEATLES.
I learned something very valuable yesterday: I am clearly, and sadly, a complete novice when it comes to taking a trip to my local record store.
For several years now, I’ve been aware of Record Store Day – for the most part, after it’s over. As a college student, I would have rather saved my money for a show. As a starving post-grad writer…I simply couldn’t afford it.
But with so many bands discovering the vinyl release niche, it’s making records more affordable for fans and more lucrative for musicians. So when I ran down the list of offerings and found a handful of must-haves for this year, I was excited for a day-long excursion all over the city.
But the moment I walked into my first stop, Vinal Edge, I knew I wasn’t ready for this. The store was packed to the gills with crates upon crates of records, rows of new and “pre-loved” CDs, old turn tables for sale and more. Add at least two dozen people shuffling through the stock and you have me, standing there, with no clue where to start.
So I just dove in. Perhaps a little too schizophrenically. I glanced over the CDs, flipped through some old school vinyl and wound up in a section of 99 cent albums. I was sucked in. After pulling two Four Freshman albums, a selection by the Supremes and “best of” the Ames Brothers, I felt I had a slightly-shabby-yet-solid start.
Down the street and around the corner, I ducked into a Half Price Books that was honoring Record Store Day…by setting up a record player in the center of the store surrounded by what they must have considered slush inventory. Rows and rows of jazz and country records. One measly selection of rock records. And the entire time I browsed, I was subjected to listening to their employees/resident music snobs complain about various classics, like Elvis. (One bragged he’d never heard an Elvis song. I walked away shaking my head.)
I moved on to what I considered the main-feature of the day: Cactus Music, located in the artsy part of town. Again, I was overwhelmed. I browsed the CDs and finally found a copy of fun’s debut album. I glanced over the vinyl and then wandered up to the table on the in-store stage where they were handing over the exclusives but only got two I was looking for.
As I got into my car to head home, I was excited about my purchases, but also felt they were inadequate. Yes, I found some pretty awesome albums, but I felt like I could have done better.
I suppose I could blame this lack of know-how on my generation: From cassettes to CDs, I was raised on plastic music, per se. I remember listening to records when I was very little, but I wasn’t allowed to touch the needle so every time my record came to an end, I had to go find a parent to flip it over for me. Operating a Walkman was much more kid-friendly: pop a cassette in, hit play and you’re off! Sadly, even though I had my own person record player, the portability of cassettes, and later CDs, made me forget about records for awhile.
But blaming those things isn’t fair because the record store never went anywhere. I, the music fan, did.
Even though I don’t feel like I did Record Store Day right, it opened my eyes to a beauty of music I’ve long forgotten. And now that I know what I’m looking for, perhaps I’ll navigate a bit better and start really building my vinyl collection.
After all, whenever you get lonely you can always go visit your friends at the record store.
xx.the Good Groupie
PS. Did you participate in RSD? Where’d you go & what did you find?