Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Not CD stores, nor those chain record stores. Those beautiful old shops, often dimly lit, with racks crammed with vinyl. The records, the artists, the album titles were all mysterious. I had no idea who half of them were, had no idea what they would be like, or even what style they played in. We didn't have the internet in those days. I often didn't even know what was available, except through word of mouth or from an article I'd read in Ram or Juke. And the album artwork - a decent size that could actually hold detail and be seen.
I close my eyes, and I can recall some of those stores. The smells, the colours, the moods. I remember flipping through the racks, carefully inspecting covers and liner notes, finding a tidbit of information that connected this record with that artist, or studio, or producer, or player. I remember reading song titles and wondering what they would be like, or what they could possibly mean. I'd buy an album, hurrying home with it safely tucked under my arm, desperate to drop the needle and be lost in the sounds.
I occasionally still find a used record or book store that evokes those times - superficially, though. I walk in through the door, and I'm back in the past. But as soon as I look through the racks it's gone. I have too much experience, too much information at my fingertips. I've seen all those covers before. I even carry a phone which permits me to google the 'unknowns' right there and make an informed decision.
That's not to say there are still gems to be found, it's just the process that has changed. And the expectations. With so much music available, it's more difficult to be impressed.
But sometimes, just sometimes I push a CD into the player, close my eyes waiting for that wave to crash over me and drag me under. And for a moment I'm sixteen years old again.