This Saturday (21 April) is Record Store Day, which is a day designed to celebrate independent record stores and a whole bunch of artists and bands are releasing special records or making appearances to celebrate it. I will definitely be heading down to an independent store in Manchester and let’s face it I’ll probably be picking up a copy of what Noel Gallagher is releasing. I do think it is important to celebrate record stores and keep them going.
Why do I feel this way? Well, as much as I’m the first person to say I love my mp3 player and how it means I can carry music around with me everywhere, I love records. I’ll never forget what it felt like to get my first casette album. I am of the generation that grew up on casettes which were then superceeded by CDs, then there was a resurgence in vinyl and now we have mp3s. I think I enjoyed music most when it was all about casettes and CDs.
When I was younger I remember being excited about picking out a cassette from the record store and it was immediately one of my most treasured belongings. My first casette album was Eternal’s ‘Always and Forever’ and I loved it and would listen to it religiously, pouring over the insert and reciting all the lyrics. However it was when CD’s were launched that going to the record store became a real treat.
Pretty much every weekend as a teenager and when at university I would go to the record shop and pick out CDs. It was where all my money went. There was no better feeling than going to the store on a Monday and picking up the brand new release that week, getting home and listening to it from start to finish. When I lived in Germany going to look around the local record store was an activity I engaged in every Saturday, enjoying the mix of German and international music available. As I became more interested in northern soul music, that interest also extended to vinyl, however it is purchasing CDs that still stays with me. Though, yes, I buy a lot of music digitally now, when an artist I love releases a new album I still go out and buy the hard copy of it.
Alas many of the independent record stores I used to go to no longer exist. The introduction of digital music has meant they have unfortunately gone out of business, but on my recent trip to the States I went to Grimey’s in Nashville. An absolutely beautiful record store, it reminded me of why I love them. Virtually splitting at the seems with vinyl, it was decorated with music posters and fairy lights and full of people talking and learning about new music.
That’s why I love record stores. Particularly independent ones. To me they are like wonderful little places to escape from real life for a while. You can go in there in a bad mood and discover music and stories that will take you away to another place. You can find records that will change your life. You can be introduced to artists who you would never have found by yourself and who will become lifelong friends to you. You can find solace, happiness, sadness and just genius in a place where it’s fun to experiment and no opinion is wrong. Everyone is allowed to like something different.
So this Saturday, I’d encourage you to go and buy a CD, or some Vinyl from an independent local record store and make sure the experience you had of going and picking out your first record is there for future generations. Because that’s a pretty special experience and one people likely never forget.