Saturday, 21 April 2012

High fidelity

Apparently, today is Record Store Day. "What's that?" I hear you ask.

Actually, I don't hear disembodied voices any more. Not since the Event. Anyway.

Record Store Day is supposed to help us celebrate the unique culture of our independent record stores. There are special vinyl and CD releases, promotional produtcts, the whole shebang. This is officially a Good Thing.

Why? Because when I was putting this post together I was trying to remember the last time I had been in an independent record store and my mind drew a blank. Then I tried to think about the last time I'd even seen an indie store. Nope, still struggling.

This is clearly a  market sector that needs our help.

Which is odd, because I think I spent about 30% of my waking hours between the age of 13 and 19 in record shops. I loved them, really loved them. I had the nonchalant finger-flick down to a fine art. You know, the action used when riffling through a shelf of vinyl albums or CD jewel cases, digging through the dross to uncover the treasure.For a couple of years I  even had a Saturday job in a record store. And while it wasn't an independent, it was still the coolest job a teenager could have.

But that was long ago. These days we don't  tend to buy music in the same way. There's very little thought involved in the wqhole process. Music is a commodity, there to be downloaded as a series of ones and zeroes at the click of a mouse. It was so much different back then.The first single I ever went out and bought was this:

I heard it on the radio as a young teenager. I fell in love with it but then had to wait until the weekend before going to my record store. Somehow, clicking a link doesn't seem to have the same emotional involvement.

Still love it now, to be honest. Brother number 1 played me the orchestral version once when I was driving us through Wales. We very nearly had an accident.

Record stores perform another vital task. They are places for blokes to go when their wives/girlfriends/significant others are shopping for clothes. We can go and do the riffle through CDs of impenetrable guitar music while she's off looking at 27 near-identical tops. These places save marriages, of this I am certain.

I can vouch for this. A few weeks ago Katie was on the retail trail so I wandered into a record store. I picked up a couple of CDs from artists I'd never really listened to before, but sort of felt I needed to discover. Taking them to the counter, the cool long-haired guy behind the till smiled and nodded approvingly at my purchases. I walked out of that shop 20 feet tall.

You just can't get that from iTunes.


alejna said...

My husband and I used to spend untold hours (and money) in a cool music store that was near us. I'm not sure if it would count as independent, but it was part of a small local chain. Then the branch of the store closed, and we mourned the loss. It opened up again in the last couple years, but the experience is not the same. (Well, that may be in large part because now I've only been there with our 2 small kids in tow. And you can't go into a trance flipping through the CDs while your 3-year-old is checking out the racks of novelty items. Well, you could, but it's not recommended.)

alejna said...

Oh, and I find myself wondering: who were the artists whose CDs you purchased, gaining you the coveted cool dude nod of approval?

fatboyfat said...


CD#1 was the first one by Rodrigo y Gabriela. It hasn't disappointed.

CD#2 was the latest Dream Theater one, because I have a strange yearning for impenetrable progressive rock. Not such a good purchase, in all honesty.


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