I have very few items left from my childhood. With each move, I “culled the herd” and got rid of the stuff I didn’t need anymore. This is the exact opposite of how I was as a kid. I kept everything! Every graded paper or test. Every scrap of a memory, I kept it. That’s a lot of crap to carry around with you though, literally and emotionally, so somewhere during or shortly after college, I changed my ways.
I have two exceptions. My comic book collection and my record collection will always come with me wherever I go. I’ve carted around those crates of albums with every move I’ve made for the last 31 years. The funny thing is, I haven’t had a working turntable for at least the last ten years. That’s about to change, as I am currently shopping for a new turntable(thank you Mom and Dad, for the early birthday present!).
What this post is really about though, is the record store, and how much fun shopping for records used to be. You know how it was when you’d get dragged along shopping by your mom as a little kid , and it just seemed like it would never end? How many more items of clothing can you possibly look at? I’m dying over here! I would imagine that anyone not interested in records would have felt that way in a record store with me and my partner in crime, Alan L.
Rochester was blessed(in a non-religious way, thank you) with amazing record stores. In a previous post, I mentioned my local favorite in high school, Fantasy Records, but there were so many more: The Great Great House of Guitars(hop hop), Record Theater, The Bop Shop, and The Record Archive were the ones that we frequented the most. We would make a day of it, driving all over town on a Saturday and trying to find weird and out of print stuff. There was no internet so we were reading the backs of albums and reading any music magazines we could find, in order to learn about interesting music that we were not likely to hear on the radio. Fantasy and Record Archive were probably my two favorites because they had used album sections. In fact, Record Archive on Mt. Hope had(and maybe still does have) a back room full of out of print albums. The shelves went from floor to ceiling. I don’t know how many hours I must have spent in that room.
After a full day of shopping, we’d go back to my bedroom and play all of our new finds. It was really a full day of music loving, nerdy fun.
Does music mean as much to kids now? Not to get all “back in my day” with you but is anyone really committed to their music anymore? We have all of the information at our fingertips. Researching music is as simple as talking to your phone. No typing needed. You can buy a download in seconds, although more people probably just stream what they want for free. Does the music mean as much to you if you have nothing invested in it? I don’t think so. To me, it just doesn’t compare to the vinyl experience. MP3’s are super convenient but don’t sound half as good as vinyl or even cd’s. I’ve been reading a lot lately about how vinyl is making a comeback, which is great, except there aren’t many record stores left. Here in Buffalo, I think Record Theater is the last man standing.
Here’s to my old buddy Al and to our record store adventures. Here is the type of music we were looking for. Stuff that never made it to commercial rock radio or really any radio at all in the 80’s. It’s also one of the best albums ever made, in my opinion.