Saturday, April 19, 2008

Record Stores and the Corporate Destruction of American Culture


"The record store. Where true fandom begins. It's the soul of discovery, and the place where you can always return for that mighty buzz. Long live that first step inside, when the music envelopes you and you can't help it. You walk up to the counter and ask the question that begins the journey -- "'what is that you're playing?'" - Cameron Crowe


Today, as not too many people know, is Record Store day. It’s a day to recognize and promote the good-ole American corner record store. Here, check out the website.

The first time I remember going to an independent record store was with my cousin, David, when I was ten or so. He was supposed to be watching me for the day, but didn't know what to do with me. So, he took me to Vintage Vinyl in the U-city Loop. Maybe it was the music exposure, maybe it was the quality time with my older cousin, but I walked out of that store in love with it. I've been exposed to music since I was a kid, thanks to dad and his record collection. And the atmosphere in that store was asphyxiating. It was a perfect combination of oceans of quality music and other people that loved music. As an adult now, there's still a certain purity about it. Record stores are a place where people can share, discuss, and learn about the art of music, undaunted by the market-driven industrialization that seeks to destroy it.
Joan Jett says it pretty well,
"The indie record stores are the backbone of the recorded music culture. The stores whose owners and staff live for music have spread the word about exciting new things faster and with more essence than either radio or the press. Any artist that doesn't support the wonderful ma and pa record stores across America is contributing to our own extinction."
Wal-mart, Best Buy, Target, etc. have waged war on the locally owned and businesses that are operated by individuals that know and love their products. It’s all been sold out for what's cheaper and easier. And with the explosion of the internet and the digitalization of music, record stores have been the most effected, perhaps. It breaks my heart to see them go. But it’s telling of the age we're in, and the NeoCapitalism that is slowly selling out culture for profit, and genuineness for superficiality.

I remember driving down to Vintage Vinyl with dad, asking him to recommend some good introductory Blues music (Elmore James), that launched me into the genre. I remember making music hunting a staple pastime with my little brother every time I came back home and going to the Loop with Marta after school, just to look for records. I remember making hour-long trips to Santa Cruz, just so I could browse Streetlight Records. It’s sad to think that my kids won't be able to experience the joys and adventure that I've found in places like Euclid Records, Streetlight Records, and Papa Jazz. It breaks my heart to see them go. So, get out today and buy something at your local Record Store (ask me for suggestions). America depends on it.

ps, Brendan Toller has made a documentary about the digital-age decline of the local store, called I Need that Record (trailer here), that he's showing at select college campuses. It looks like its worth checking out.

some websites to visit:

Recordstoreday.com
ineedthatrecord.blogspot.com
Artists quotes on Record Stores

1 comment:

Romondo Davis said...

Your writing lately has been especially inspired and entertaining. You have a gift, Son. Keep it up.