Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

3Jun/0925

You can call me Rob Gordon…

highfidelity.jpg

For a few years in the mid to late 80s I was part of the record store culture. And, if you ever worked music retail you know that High Fidelity wasn’t too far off the mark when it came to pegging us music geeks.

From early 1986 to late 1987, I worked at a rather odd, almost cult like store in Wayne, NJ. While Disc-o-mat was a chain, it ran more like an indie store because of the eclecticism of both the employees and the people who shopped there like it was their religion. Some 20 years on, I still miss some of those people and always wondered what became of them, though a couple of guys I do know what happened to traded New Jersey for the California shores as and released a little hit, "Anything Anything".

I fell into the job by accident actually. The store was a favorite haunt of mine and holds a special place as my first stop after I got my driver’s license. I drove myself, first time alone no less, over to that West Belt Mall and proceeded to buy Night Ranger’s Midnight Madness, Survivor’s Vital Signs and Ratt’s Out Of The Cellar on cassette. That first stop would be far from my last as weekly visits helped me amass quite the music collection and the familiarity of some of the staff I befriended. Turned out on one visit there was a help wanted sign at the register the day I went in to purchase Van Halen’s “Why Can’t This Be Love” 45. The lengthy discussion with the cashier might have been one of the first of many Dave versus Sammy arguments that would follow my life. But, I did walk out of there with both the album and a new job.

(Oh, and for the record, not much can touch the early Dave years of Van Halen but I’m not going to be snobbish enough and deny that the band also recorded a lot of great material with Hagar.)

Over the next two years I would go from sarcastic loner to sarcastic extrovert as I feel like I finally belonged. These were my people! Everyone I worked with had a passion for the music, their music. While not a day went by where there wasn’t 2 or 3 arguments about what to flip on the turntables (long before the days of piped in satellite radio), in the end a lot of what you didn’t want to hear initially became favorites of a new sort. I started my musical journey from my own tastes of Rush and Journey and left with an appreciation of The Cure, the lost years of David Bowie and even Run DMC among many others. Admittedly, I still can’t get a grip on the Smiths and if I ever hear someone sing, “some girls mothers are bigger than other girls mothers,” again I just may hurt them regardless of how big their mother is.

I would go on from there to work in a few more record stores over the years until finally getting a “real job,” but none I’ve had since can match the sheer sense of fulfillment I had in my life of doing something I truly loved.

Nowadays, record stores are practically extinct. Music departments in places like Best Buy or Target have been reduced to barely an aisle or two. In a way I feel bad for the youth of today and not ever knowing the feeling of just going into a store to simply browse album covers, wonder if it’s worth taking a chance on a band like Aviator, simply because the producer worked on other favorites of yours (and having back cover showing a bunch of long haired dudes usually helped). That sense of discovery just can’t be the same clicking and sampling through iTunes or MySpace. At least it’s not for me. Of course, there's something to be said for actual ownership of the music, the pouring over liner notes...reading every last thank you and lyric, and even remembering the days when Kiss used to include a poster or a "love gun" with their album. PDF booklet? Pft!

These social centers have all but disappeared, leaving us music geeks to write blogs, troll forums and go back to being introverts...present company excluded obviously.

  • http://www.clevelandbachelor.blogspot.com CB

    PDF booklet? Pff.

    Perfectly stated, my friend. As always, you impress me with your writing and your knowledge. Hope to see you tomorrow?

  • tom thumb

    love the dramarama ellen clip. I missed that somewhere along the way the first time..

  • http://musicinducedeuphoria.blogspot.com Hanan

    I love record stores. I want to own one someday. or even just work in one.
    I love The Smiths! and that’s a great song. The Queen is Dead is just ace. I actually prefer Smiths to Cure but whatever, to each his own

    also, I love Rob Gordon and pdfs can go fuck themselves.

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