Friday, October 27, 2006

Everything Must Go!

I've been reluctant to weigh in on a couple of subjects because I don't want to wallow in nostalgia, even though nearly everything on this blog is about music I listened to long ago. One is the closing of CBGBs and the other is the closing of Tower Records.

Too much has been written about CBGBs already. I have many fond memories of the club. I vividly remember the first time I walked through its hallowed doors. I was hit by an incredible blast of sound from the guitars of the Lazy Cowgirls. I could literally feel the music hit me in the chest. It was so loud and powerful I thought it would knock the wind out of me. I saw tons of memorable shows there (too many to list), and always enjoyed the genuinely grungy atmosphere. So it's closed now, and my reaction is "big deal." Clubs come and go all the time, and CBGBs had a great run. CBGBs was special, but then I assume so was Max's Kansas City. Life goes on.

I have a different reaction to the closing of Tower. I find this a bit sadder. As with CBGBs I have a lot of fond memories of Tower Records. I can still recall the feeling of excitement I felt upon making a trip to Tower in Washington D.C. when I was in high school--from the overwhelming sense of anticipation as I looked for a parking space in the GW neighborhood, to the misplaced feeling of pride I felt at the approving nods of the tattooed and pierced music-snob clerks when I checked out. Going to Tower was like entering a different world from the mall chains in Annapolis that I was desperate to leave behind. Everything about Tower just seemed cooler, and I felt cooler for shopping there (and yes, I know that is idiotic, but I'm just trying to be honest).

But it's not just my memories of the place that make me feel the closing of Tower more intensely than the closing of CBGBs. It's because the closing of Tower is another nail in the coffin of the brick-and-mortar record store. I've known this was coming for years, and I've watched as one-by-one my favorite record stores have closed up shop: The Annapolis Record and Tape Exchange (okay, so there was one cool thing in Annapolis), Venus Records and Rocks In Your Head in New York, Rick's Records and In Your Ear in Providence, to name just a few. There are only two actual record stores left in my area, and from what I can gather they could close at anytime. Face it: the record store is dead.

Of course, there are other ways to buy music (online retailers, eBay, downloads, Borders, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target), but none of them are remotely as satisfying as browsing a well-stocked record store. And sure, I realize that some of the record stores that are still out there will continue to find a niche in the market (from what I understand Other Music situated across the street from the Tower on Broadway is still going gangbusters). But this is much like the current situation with the LP, you can still buy new LPs from specialty manufacturers and retailers, but for all intents and purposes the LP is dead and it’s not coming back. Everything must go! All things must pass...My favourite buildings are all laid to waste. One might as well sculpt a statue from toothpaste.

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