Friday, April 16, 2010

Record Store Day is Saturday, April 17

No, you don't have to buy Happy Record Store Day! Hallmark cards for your favorite record-store employee, although I'm sure the greeting-card companies are working on that for next year. But do stop in to your local record store (do you have any of those around any more? I hope so) for a fabulous day of celebration of all things flat, grooved and vinyl. (I've been writing a lot of marketing articles lately--can you tell?)

There will be special releases, t-shirts and other fun-filled promotional items--like (gasp!) CDs at the 1400 participating record stores this year. Because I'm over 40, I'm a member of the record-store tribe from way back. The San Francisco Bay Area has always been a mother lode of great record stores and I get really sad when they go out of business. They were akin to libraries for me when I was growing up. They helped make me who I am. And the owners were always another breed entirely, especially the used-store owners. They tended to have a dusty, musty, "I've got some good ganja in the back" kind of vibe. Solid citizens--all of them.

And good news! According to NPR this morning, teenagers are buying records in...record numbers. Apparently they're grossed out by their parents co-opting their ear buds and MP3 players and they want something a little rougher around the edges to musically call their own. It's about time, kids. Welcome to the world of scratches, pops and getting up to play side 2! Enjoy the warmer ambiance that only a needle in a hardened petroleum product can make. And please, please, please, may this record-buying trend bring back record-sleeve creativity of yore. CD packaging is a scourge and a disappointment nearly always.

The official site of Record Store Day lists participating stores, events and quotes from musicians who set the record (ahem) straight.

Chris Frantz talks about how record stores save us from a homogeneous existence. And sadly, how the Talking Heads couldn't make it if they were starting out today.

"High Fidelity" attempts to capture the essence of record store culture. Not an easy thing to do. 'A' for effort.

Here's Robyn Hitchock:
Records used to mean vinyl, then cassettes, then cd's, and now downloads. Like currency, they got smaller and are now almost invisible. The record stores were a great network where music fans could listen to what was out there without necessarily having to buy it. But if they did, they came away with a black disc* embedded with grooves, mostly enshrined in a cardboard sleeve that contained vital additions to the music inside. These sacred objects (and their slightly less sacred descendants, the tape and the compact disc) were the closest you could get to the act itself: like portable shrines with holy relics.

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