NYT threw me back in time to my second job ever. At Music Stop.
We were the discount record store. Not quite as hip and not as big a catalog as Peaches–but we had the top selling LPs at the best prices. And I was introduced to music beyond Foreigner, Kansas, Led Zepplin, and Foghat.
I did the weekly inventory–mostly because I worked on Mondays, was able to work the order book, and really liked flipping through the bins and bins of records and seeing which records were missing from last week. Why didn’t anyone buy those Robert Palmer records? The album art looked promising. Why did the white jazz artists get filed under ROCK and the black jazz artists under R&B? And wow! did that Cars record take off.
What I learned was that sometimes the whole was greater than a sum of it’s parts. The concept album–from Beatles to Pink Floyd to OutKast–told a story, ran a gamut of feelings, said more about the artist, more about me.
I must say that I love ITunes, and I loved Napster in the old days.
I also love a great pop single. But buying the album–or CD using current terms–gives a bigger view of the artist. If you heard the chart topping Lose Control from Missy Elliot’s Cookbook but missed the marching band at the end of We Run This, you really missed. Yes, I’m sorry I bought the weak Dangerously in Love for the best single of that summer, but delighted to have all of Late Registration (Sorry Mr. West is gone).
Now record stores are gone, and artists are being signed for deals on singles–not LPs. I am not smart enough to know what the market will do, but I do miss the bins, and the album art, and getting a paper cut when you slit the record for the first time.
We were at Kemp Mill records a few years back, and I tried to impress the boys with my coolness.
ME: You know I used to work in a record store.
The 15-year-old (at age 9): What’s a record?