Music a lifetime adventure
Saturday might as well have been Christmas because instead of sleeping in, all I could think about was getting to the record store before it opened.
Now Hear This in Huntington, W.Va., as well as hundreds of other record stores around the country, celebrated Record Store Day.
The special day was started seven years ago as a way to promote independent music stores. Special edition vinyl records by groups old and new are released in very limited quantities. So limited in fact, not each store gets all the releases.
Case in point, one of the hot items this year was a 10-inch picture disk displaying the iconic red and white “Ghostbusters” logo by Ray Parker Jr.
I certainly wanted that for my collection, as did the others who were waiting outside the shop. It was not to be.
Flipping through the special releases with the other audiophiles in the vinyl room of Now Hear This, I felt like a kid in a candy store.
Although I didn’t find a special release I really wanted, I was satisfied with my finds by Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, The Replacements and Men at Work.
More than a few people have told me they thought it was unusual for someone my age to collect vinyl, let alone own a device that would play one.
When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was to go to the record store with my mom or dad.
Although there were no actual records to be found by the time I could hold on to a memory of the place, my parents always called Camelot Music “the record store.”
In the mid and late 1980s, the walls of Camelot were filled with rows and rows of cassette tapes, with a section dedicated to the ever-popular “cassingle.” The center was filled with CD bins.
Sometimes my mother would let me pick out a cassette, but the only one I really remember is “Girl You Know It’s True” by Milli Vanilli.
Give me a break. I was only, like, 5 years old.
I swear my mom could spend hours in that store flipping through the disks, the sound of the cellophane covered plastic cases popping together. She would usually settle on something by Phil Collins or Genesis, which probably explains my indiscriminant love for the song “Invisible Touch.”
I have a lot of fond memories of that store, including buying my first CDs — “Siamese Dream” by The Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer’s blue album— with my own hard-earned money. If you’re a 30-something like me, you probably bought them, too.
Throughout the rest of the 1990s, I amassed a ludicrous collection of CDs, many of which I still have and still cherish — special mention goes to “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” by the Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam’s “Ten,” and anything by Radiohead.
Then, when I was about 15 or 16 years old, a wave of nostalgia must have befallen my dad because he dragged out his entire vinyl collection. Despite my love for alternative music, I had always listened to classic rock. I could sing along to “More Than a Feeling” with the best of them, but it wasn’t until I started rummaging through the vinyl that I felt this urge to immerse myself in the deep cuts and B-sides that radio stations didn’t often play.
Led Zeppelin III’s B-side is still one of my favorite selections.
I could have just as easily bought a CD or, eventually, downloaded a digital copy. But there is just something about that pure, rich analog sound that is more fulfilling. Even that dusty static is a kind of music all its own.
I started shopping for my own records at a local hole-in-the-wall called Ye Olde Clock Shoppe. Supposedly the owner, Bill Arey, repaired clocks and jukeboxes, but the dark, dusty store was mostly filled with old vinyl.
Mr. Arey was of considerable age and was very curious why such a young girl wanted to spend a Saturday afternoon in an old dusty record store.
But the shop didn’t smell like dust to me. It smelled like this new adventure I had undertaken and I didn’t mind a bit getting dirty in the process.
I became a regular and Mr. Arey knew me by name. If I picked out more records than I knew I could afford, he kept them in a special crate for me behind his counter. Plenty of times he refused to take my money at all.
He even let me rummage through boxes upon boxes of records in the back rooms of his shop. He had so many LPs, there just wasn’t room in the bins at the front of the store. One of my most treasured albums, a near mint condition copy of “Atom Heart Mother” by Pink Floyd, came out of one of those boxes.
Some days, when I didn’t feel like buying a record, we would just sit and listen to music. I don’t think he really cared for rock ‘n’ roll all that much, but he’d sit and listen all the same and we would shoot the breeze.
It went on like that for at least two years, then as I started college, the visits became fewer and fewer. Eventually Mr. Arey became unable care for his store and it was sold and later torn down.
He died a little more than a year ago and although I hadn’t seen him in many years, it was still such sad news. I know I tried to express my appreciation for his kindness towards me back then, but I know I could have never really paid him back. How do you repay someone who, essentially, was responsible for shaping how you hear and feel about music?
I don’t suppose you can in any tangible way.
I think that’s why, in part, I still shop at those independent record stores. Supporting those shops might give some other kid — whether they are looking for their first copy of “Dark Side of the Moon” or “London Calling” — the opportunity to start his or her own adventure one day.
Michelle Goodman is the news editor at The Tribune. To reach her, call 740-532-1441 ext. 12 or by email at email@example.com.
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