Remember record stores?
As a baby boomer, record stores were a permanent part of my youth. I spent hours, days, weeks of my teenage years wandering through the aisles of stand-alone shops as well as the record departments at E. J. Korvettes and Alexander’s, browsing and reading liner notes before making my choice. I cannot tell you how many times I read the words to the songs on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club” band. Record covers allowed us to absorb the music into our souls.
I have vivid memories of going to Alexander’s Lexington Avenue store to buy “Abbey Road” on the day it was released. Every person on line was buying the very same album.
Aside from selling records, the stores were also the places to go to get the hot ticket to the hot concert in town. Before the internet, if you wanted to buy tickets to a concert, you could go to the venue OR line up at your local record store and wait for one of those Ticketmaster machines to spit out a couple of “hard” tickets.
Those were the good old days–when scalpers actually had to bribe the ticket sellers to lay aside a few good seats. Now all they need is that devilish software that allows them to beat everyone to the punch the millisecond seats go on sale.
And it wasn’t only my youth but but my middle age too. It feels like just a few years ago, I was driving down the Sunset Strip when I stopped at a Tower Records to buy the first Coldplay CD. I know, I know but it feels like yesterday. I can remember going to London a few years back and stopping in their version of Tower Records during lunch hour. The place was packed and Dido’s latest was blasting from the speakers. It was so very English.
That was like….can it really be nearly 20 years ago? How can places so vibrant just…disappear?
What I wouldn’t do to have them back and that’s exactly what happened the other day as I walked down Fifth Avenue. I was just a little north of 42nd Street–not too far from where The Record Hunter once was–when in the window of Urban Outfitters was….a full-fledged record shop (except the store calls it a “Vinyl Shop.” Rows and rows of vinyl just sitting there waiting to be flipped through. I walked in and it was like going back in time.
Yes, they had the latest Taylor Swift and Adele records but they also had The Beatles and Led Zeppelin II. I happily browsed through the LPs, once again taking my to read the liner notes. And I have a new record player so I wasn’t just play acting. One of the great things about the times we live in now is that record companies are actually pressing vinyl again.
In the end, I couldn’t decide which record to buy but it doesn’t matter. I know I’ll be back; it’s great to know it exists.