Tomorrow, April 18th, is Record Store Day across the United States. It is a day to celebrate and remind the public of the culture and unique sense of place that record stores provide to our communities.
I worked at a record store in Chicago for years (kudos to Rolling Stone Records, “Chicagoland’s Superstore”), a job I hadn’t really applied for so much as fell into. See…I was trying to get a job for a friend of mine from Ireland who was visiting Chicago for the summer. Since she sported punked-out blue hair at the time, I thought…well, they’d probably hire her at the record store, where piercings and dyed/spiked hair were all the rage. While there, we both filled out applications…and they called ME back for the job! (My friend…get this…got hired at a bank! Ha!)
Much to my mother’s dismay in my taking the job, she was correct in stating that I’d “never save a dime” working there. But…did she not realize what incredible discounts I would receive? How I was able to order any import that I wanted? How I could get my friends steep discounts? And how this was WAAAAAAAAAY more important than saving money for college tuition (that’s what my other two jobs were for)?
The first time I ever entered this record store was with my brother, who, at a young age, was already totally into vintage jazz and musicians I had never heard of. We used to skip out on church and go to what we dubbed the “10am Sunday Mass at Rolling Stones Records”. My brother would hide our purchases in the trunk of the car, while I ran into the “real” church to grab that Sunday’s pamphlet (proof enough for my parents that we had been to church). The hour time line was perfect. Thus, music became my religion…the record store my church. AMEN!
Some highlights of my time at Rolling Stones:
* The Rocky Horror Picture Show performers who came in every Saturday night, dressed like the characters, and singing/acting out to the soundtrack that we’d put on for them
* Michael Jordan coming into the store and delivering new Nike Airs to all the guys who worked there
* Meeting Carlos Santana just hanging out before one of his shows
* The staff throwing me a Going Away party when I left to study in Ireland for a year…complete with renting out an entire nightclub just for my friends and setting me up with Lemmy’s from Motorhead phone number in London to call “if I needed anything while I was in the U.K.” (Yeah, right!)
* I cannot even count how many free concert tickets I received…
Ah…those were the good ol’ days! A record store was a real DESTINATION. A place to hang out with fellow music lovers, and to feel at home. A place to be inspired and to learn something new. Don’t get me wrong…uploading an album from iTunes is fine. But don’t forget to support your local independent record store.
If you’re in Seattle, check out the following record stores, where you can catch some discounts and great in-store performances:
Adventure on down to your local record store and buy yourself a “licorice pizza”!