Back in the day we still had record stores.

I once asked my principle if I could take my class to Rolling Stone Records on a field trip, just so they could see a major part of Western World culture before it became extinct.

I got turned down. Taking a class, well, four American history classes to a record store on a field trip was unnecessary. Even when I offered to sweeten the deal by adding the video rental on six corners & a payphone as additional stops.

Actually, when I mentioned the payphone, he just rolled his eyes.

He rolled his eyes at me a lot.

I still think it was a good idea.

When I was a kid we had record stores & cover art. OK, OK, I didn’t get the enormous, gigantic record sleeves that my dad got & it never really hit me when I was really little & listening to tapes.

But when I hit Junior High, CDs were big. CDs were a game changer, suddenly, when you went to buy an album, the cover art looked cool. Maybe not as cool as it used to look, but a hell of a lot better than it did when tapes were big.

I remember the first CD I got. It was actually Rattle & Hum, by U2 & I thought it was a bad ass cover. That was followed, the same Christmas, by A Kind of Magic, & that cover popped. It really popped.

Suddenly, the cover art became a part of the music again. When tapes were floating around, I lost the sleeves & never gave a shit. But CDs, the inserts, the covers, they were as much a work of art as the music itself. They defined the album in a way that the little covers on audio tapes were too small to.

Cover Art is lacking today & thanks to the interweb, it’s gone. I’m putting it in that long list of things that I miss. It’s right up there with video stores & record stores & book stores. Anyplace, really, where I could roam the aisles & take in images.

Bookstores were a great hang out. I stopped going to video rentals when I started college. But record stores, OH GOD DO I MISS THOSE! I miss the whole experience of them, the music, the dirty concrete floors, the poster wall, the cover art, the tattooed & pierced clerks with obviously dyed hair, combat boots, & baby doll dresses, & the copy of The Onion next to the door.

When I was in High School the entire day could be planned around a trip to the record store. A new album was released & we had to leave the city, pile into a car, & drive out to Rolling Stone or Tower Records to buy it. They were the enormous record stores, the ones that would be packed with people & the ones where we could stumble on an unknown treasure on the way to buy the new Foo Fighters.

And then I got older & I went to college & the only difference is that there were fewer people piled into the car. As time passed Tower closed, music got worse, & now everything is done over the internet.

Record stores were a the House of the Holy & we entered them in awe & reverence. When I was a teenager, a record store was a place of worship. It was where you went to be around your people, audiophiles, & you got to know the people that worked there, sometimes you got to know them really well.

I am NOT going to pile into a car & drive out of my way to experience the magic of Best Buy. I don’t want my record store clerks to be blond teenage girls in a uniform. I want them to be surly & I want Ali (the hot heroin chic chick) to be able to make fun of me for listening to “Chick Shit” if I buy a copy of Loreena McKenitt for my girlfriend.

In a record store, mocking me for buying The Book of Secrets is fair game, at a Best Buy it will get you fired. That’s a damn shame. I doubt Ali would have ever considered applying at a Best Buy.

I wonder what she’s doing now. I had a really big crush on her that lasted from 16 to the final days of Tower Records.

Kids these days, they don’t have that. A close second would be a wait outside the Apple Store for their new phone. The fucking Apple Store, Best Buy, they are both places that won’t play albums with explicit lyrics over their speakers & altogether, well, they are too uniformed & clean to make magic teenaged memories.

So this is a tribute of sorts, to some of the things I miss most in life, cover art & record stores.

My Top Twenty Covers

1) Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run


2) Supertramp: Breakfast in America


3) Miles Davis: Tutu


4) Pink Floyd: A Momentary Lapse of Reason


5) Queen: News of the World


6) U2: Rattle and Hum


7) The Cranberries: Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can’t We


8) The Police: Synchronicity


9) Queen: Queen II


10) Blue Oyster Cult: Fire of Unknown Origin


11) The Clash: Give ’em Enough Rope


12) The Kinks: Low Budget


13) Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy


14) Primus: Pork Soda


15) Rammstein: Sehnsucht


16) The Smiths: Singles


17) Slayer: Reign in Blood


18) Queen: Sheer Heart Attack


19) Sinead O’Connor: Universal Mother


20) The Cars: Candy-0


That’s the problem with music, you walk away from a list & think “Christ, I can’t believe I forgot the Byrds,” & then yout top 20 turns into 30.

21) The Byrds: Byrdmaniax


22) The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground & Nico


23) Santana: Abraxas


24) Deborah Harry: KooKoo


25) Alice in Chains: Dirt


26) Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here


27) U2: War


28) King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King


29) Traffic: The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys


30) Spin Doctors: Pocket Full of Kryptonit


I promise I’ll try not to edit this again


4 thoughts on “And the Wind Cried

  1. Back in the day, my husband worked at a record store. He is waiting for the day when he can retire from his paper pushing job so that he can set up a record/coffee/cranberry shop.
    Great choices for album covers.

    • It’s not the 90s anymore, if the record shop is going to be successful he’ll need more than just The Cranberries, I mean, I am a fan, I had a huge crush on Dolores O’Riordan as a kid, but they only have like 6 albums.

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