Earlier in the week, Ms. TVD forwarded to me the blog post below from 94.7's web site. For those of you not local to DC, 94.7 'The Globe' is our 'classic rock' radio station and the author of the post is local radio DJ/local legend Weasel who's been on the air here in town ever since my arrival back in '85. I think what Weasel has to say is both timely and pertinent for reasons I'll get to shortly. Give it a read:
RIP: Record Stores Everywhere
Once upon a time when we were all very young and times were different people used to hang out in record stores. Nick Hornby wrote about it in High Fidelity and John Cusack and Jack Black in the movie made it seem so romantic. Do you think the Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist generation have any idea? I hate to admit it but I have probably spent half of my life in these stores as well as their 8 track, cassette CD and even VHS video tape and DVD successors.
They actually had 7 inch slabs of vinyl with a big hole in the middle called 45 rpm singles where you could get 2 songs and they were only 69 cents at the Korvettes. And you could get Meet the Beatles in mono for $2.69 or stereo for $3.69. But of course if you were looking for Miles' Kind of Blue or Brubeck's Time Out or even the Weavers at Carnegie Hall you had to look elsewhere. There was always the quest to find the new and exciting adventure the place where the real records were.
I was too young to remember the legendary Commodore Record store on 42nd Street in Times Square where Billy Crystal's uncle Milt Gabler sold Jazz records before he recorded Billy Holliday's Strange Fruit and Bill Halley and Buddy Holly. But my uncle Seymour regaled me tales of treasures that awaited in that store for a culture that still spun at 78. It still seems so romantic to me now.
For me it was the Original Sam Goody store at 8th Avenue and 49th street and whenever I would into the city to visit my Dad I would make sure he would take me there. Now this Sam Goody was not the Mall store that Trans World Entertainment runs today but New Yorks ultimate catalogue store at the time. They had everything from Charlie Parker's Dial recordings to Leadbelly's Folkways sides to a healthy dose of Lenny Bruce's albums the Tony Glover Harmonica Instruction Record and even a few Hebrew language instruction records for good measure. For a kid with evolving tastes it was heaven.
The record store never left the boy especially during my radio career at WHFS where it seemed like I spent every Saturday afternoon during the 70's and 80's doing 5 hour remotes. Memories of the amazing and incredible Howard Applebaum and Kemp Mill or Page Hubbley's Penguin Feather or the legacy of Max Silverman's Waxie Maxie which played a roll in the founding of Atlantic Records. And sometimes we would even wind up in a Harmony Hut mall store. It seems strange lugging boxes of a 100 of our own records to a record store but that's what we did. And a 100 pound remote set with 2 turntables microphones and a mixing console which would usually require at least 2 people to carry in and out. The phone company would install high quality 15 kHz stereo remote lines so we could actually play the records from the store. And of course the reward was the crowd surging our remote set up and usually knocking whatever record we were playing off the air. Our remotes were so much fun and were as a big a slice of live radio that you could ever get.
When the regional chains started to fizzle out they were soon replaced by the mall stores which would usually only stock the top 40 of each catagory. But soon Russ Salomon's California dreaming started to spread nationwide. Tower Records brought back memories of that early Sam Goody and had a staff that lived breathed and eventually died with the records and the music. Alas Tower too is no more but for awhile the catalogue store lived on. Maybe Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Mega Stores are the last hope but not here in DC.
The news keeps getting worse. The used record stores are going out business too victims of rising rents and the internet's more conducive business model. When you're brick and morter you draw from your local community but on the internet you can reach Wreckless Eric's whole wide world. And with today's mail order shipping it's a lot easier just to put an ad in Goldmine.
So bye bye Yesterday and Today and most recently the long running Orpheus. And we remember Bialek's Discount Book and Record where I once hosted a Halloween Toga party and did a live broadcast with Dave Marsh when he wrote his biography of Bruce Springsteen. And now Olsson's is gone too. Coming up I'll share some memories of Olsson's that involve a Christmas tradition straight out of an O'Henry story. And we'll talk about the fact that as record and music stores are gasping their last breath an interesting phenomenon is happening. Vinyl records are staging a huge comeback especially with younger generations.
Even though it's tough to say goodbye RIP: Record Stores everywhere.
Although I've been saying it for some time now, this weekend and next mark the last 4 days that the aforementioned Orpheus Records will be open for business and what's ever left in the bins at this point (which is PLENTY since my previous visit there last Saturday) is priced at a dollar. That's right, ONE dollar. All of it, no matter what the price ONCE was--is a dollar. One greenback. Uno clam. A single sawbuck. And there's even live music this Saturday night (11/1). Doors open at noon...and that guy with the crates? That'll be me...
Elvis Costello & the Attractions - High Fidelity (Mp3)
Gary Myrick and The Figures - She Talks In Stereo (Mp3)
The Smiths - Rubber Ring (Mp3)
L.E.O. - Goodbye Innocence (Mp3)
David Essex - Rock On (Mp3)