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