The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Record Stores (#atozchallenge)


I miss my record browsing days.  Flipping through the bins of vinyl albums was an adventure that could absorb hours of my time.---Arlee Bird.









File:Jr-parkrow-nyc.jpg
J&R on Park Row, in New York City  (Wikipedia)

 Record Stores

         When I asked "What Does Manhattan Say to You?" I wasn't too surprised by the answer I got from Larry at DiscConnected:

      Having grown up so close to NYC (Philly), a lot of images come to mind.

      However, my most vivid images are of St. Mark's Place in the east village, where I would venture four of five times each year for a CD buying excursion. The stores are gone now, but the block had about eight different stores that would usually yield more treasures than I had any business spending money on.

       The day would usually start at J & R Music World on Park Row, across from the World Trade Center.

      My last trip there was on Friday, September 8, 2001, I believe the same day Ryan Adams filmed his "New York" music video. Sadly, the lower triangle's landscape changed forever a few days later, and that was my last trip to J & R. The village stores closed over the next few years, and now I find my CD's on the internet.

     But I miss those days spent browsing. I had a good friend (Kent) who was also an avid collector, although my collection eclipsed his when his priorities got screwed up and he had offspring.

     I had a job offer in Manhattan at the same time as I took the transfer to Arizona, and I still do not regret it. In my twenties, I would have loved the city life, but by that time, I'd spent ten years on the road (as an auditor) and was ready for a quieter life.

     Still a great place to visit, though.

My Own Music Sprees

         Larry's story is one to which I can totally relate except for the locale.  I would have loved to have shopped those record stores in Manhattan.  I call them record stores even though most of my purchases eventually became cassettes and then later CD's.  My earliest buying excursions would mostly have been shopping the cut-out bins for record albums when I still lived in Tennessee.  If they were cheap then I might buy a number of them in one visit.  However when I was paying full price I'd usually only be able to afford one or two at a time.

        Later on when I began touring with a road show I spent my free time in whatever city I happened to be in scouring the record stores for cassette tapes.   I guess I bought a few thousand cassettes during the 80's.  My favorite place to go cassette shopping was on Younge Street in downtown Toronto.  Since we were paid in Canadian money when we worked in that country I wanted to spend as much money as I could so I didn't have to lose money exchanging to U.S. currency when we returned to the states.   I'd load up on the latest cassettes as well as older music that I had been wanting.  On my off days--we usually had about a week off in Toronto--I'd spend hours in those music stores which were huge.  

       I can easily see myself in Manhattan shopping those same stores that Larry describes.  That is if it were back in the 70's, 80's, or 90's.   Now I very rarely buy any recorded music.  In the nineties I started buying CD's and now have a huge collection that I rarely listen to.  In one sense it's sad to think of all that money I spent on vinyl, cassettes, and CD's.  On the other hand I can think of the hours and hours I spent listening to and enjoying that music.  My hours driving during my road years would have been much less enjoyable had I not had my music to entertain me.

        Have you spent a lot of time in stores browsing for something that you enjoyed?   Do you own much recorded music now?   Can you recall some of your old favorite haunts for buying recorded music?  


52 comments:

  1. Those were The days... days of records and cassettes.. I still have so many cassettes in my custody ... but no player to play :(


    http://serendipityofdreams.blogspot.in/2016/04/ripples.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deepti, for the longest time I didn't have a turntable for my LP's. The one I have is not connected so I can use it. Most of my cassette are packed away.

      Lee

      Delete
  2. You know every music you love is available at a click...just type the first few words...where is the joy of searching for the particular cassette. I was still am an avid radio listener..the surprise element of the next song to be played makes me hooked. But there was a time when i used to save money to buy the cassette i loved, and waited to acquire it ardently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Soma, that's the thing now. I can find just about anything I want to hear quickly online and it's so much easier than rummaging through my music collection to find what I want to hear. These days I listen to talk radio more than any music radio and hardly keep up with new music like I used to.

      Lee

      Delete
    2. Lee-hope you do not mind me chiming in on some posted comments.

      SOma, one things that people miss with the digital listen (besides the added fidelity from a CD) is the experience of listening to any album from start to finish.

      Digital music has a place (portability, convenience), but it saddens me that the conventional physical form is truly on the way out.

      Larry

      Delete
    3. Larry, by all means jump in--I'm thrilled and honored. After all this post was inspired by you and I dedicate it to you.

      Lee

      Delete
  3. Yes. I could easily spend hours among all the skeins of yarn in Hobby Lobby or any other yarn store for that matter.

    There was a time when I could spend a lot of time looking for records or tapes. Then CDs and babies came along and not much time for music browsing anymore. Most music that we get nowadays is bought online, either as a CD or a digital download. We have a tremendous music collection, probably as much music here as there are books!

    Musicland, Peaches, The Music Machine, Sky City, JC Penney, Kmart, and these days, antique stores, thrift stores, and Amazon are just a few of the places that we have bought music over the years.

    Have a great day!




    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Suzanne, last summer I went with my youngest daughter to a comic book store that had used vinyl and I actually bought a record that I had been wanting. That's the first music I've bought in a store in many years. Mostly if I do buy music it's through Amazon and that's not often.

      Lee

      Delete
  4. I used to work in a record shop before I was married. It was a wonderful job especially as I have a love of music.
    Yvonne.
    (Still on the challenge by the way)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yvonne, I used to dream of working in a record store. You lived out my dream.

      Lee

      Delete
  5. You can also get your thumbing through the albums fix at flea markets. I do it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teresa, I have done that, but it's been a while. I just find it hard to justify buying much music these days when I don't listen to it that much.

      Lee

      Delete
  6. My brother is the record collector in our family. In fact, he still visits the local record shop in Nashville, Grimey's, every week to scour the new stock. At this point I'm sure he has tens of thousands of vinyl albums - and he would say that is still not enough :)

    Molly @MyCozyBookNook
    My Cozy Book Nook
    Revising Life after 50

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Molly, I think it becomes an obsession. I know that's the way I got about record hunting.

      Lee

      Delete
  7. I love and miss record stores. I probably visited Sam Goody at the Galleria in White Plains but all my record shopping adventures were to Boston. So many stores up there, including the Harvard Coop. I still own a lot of vinyl and cassette tapes, plus now CDs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JoJo, I was the same way and also still own much recorded music. The collection sits there mostly gathering dust, but it's kind of cool to look at.

      Lee

      Delete
  8. I remember being a kid living in Colorado Springs and going to record stores to listen to new releases. I bought Blame it On the Bossa Nova by Edie Gorme. Jeesh! In Toronto it was Sam's - it still is I think...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jan, yeah, I think Sam's was one of the stores I used to visit in Toronto. I think one was called Ace. There were so many, but I don't know if they're still there or not.

      Lee

      Delete
    2. Sams was big and A&A , don't remember Ace but then they say if you remember the 60s you didn't do them right!

      Delete
  9. I thought of as LC as soon as I saw the title of this blog bit. ha!

    My ex's son, now a high school senior, has begun collecting vinyl records. Of course, he also has a record player. It's so strange. I really thought vinyl was done. Over. Not coming back. What do I know??? About a month ago I was visiting and we stopped in at an antique-y type shop in the downtown. They had a fairly extensive vinyl collection, which drew the boy in immediately. I think he settled on a Chicago album and we left. Had I known this would happen, I'd have taken care to keep all of MY old records. Ah well...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robin, my youngest daughter got into collecting vinyl too. I should have kept all the vinyl I sold a few years back. I still have a lot of records but those are the ones that mean a lot to me even though I don't listen to them much. I guess I'll have to pass them on to my daughter someday if she's still collecting them.

      Lee

      Delete
  10. For me, recorded music is the only way to go. I do NOT like digital downloads. Sure they take up room, but I would rather physically own the CD's. And yes, I do still listen to the various CD's later in the car. On top of that, I usually put them in my Itunes and can 'spin them' for hours using genius mode. In total, I only have about 500 CD's and I am running out of room to keep them. You know what that means, right? Correct, I need to get more CD shelving. :D
    There is one store I frequent quite often. It's called CD Exchange, but it's independently owned. The deals there are fantastic. I find film dvd's for as low as 3-4 dollars (not always, but sometimes) and cd's as low as 1 or 2 dollars (not always, but sometimes). The deals are fantastic and they have a large selection of older TV show DVD's as well. I have spent hours in there and often visit during my lunch hour at work, just to browse or find that one CD that has escaped my notice. When I visit other cities, I love finding the used CD stores. Since I know how to restore any banged up or cracked CD cases, I don't mind what state they are in. As long as the jacket is in at least fair condition. Jewel cases can always be replaced for cheap, cheap, cheap.
    Yikes! I really went on and on replying to this one, didn't I? Is it any wonder I'm in BOTBs? I love music.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeffrey, I share your love for the music though I've lost a lot of the passion for ownership of the music as you still have. But I know where you're coming from. If I see a store like you describe and have time I'll get lost in the place though rarely walk away with a purchase.

      Lee

      Delete
    2. Jeffrey-I can recommend Ikea's line of Billy bookcases for CD storage. They allow you to buy extra shelves which maximizes the room.

      I thought I had a picture of my collection on my blog, but it's not on the main page-but trust me when I say I've tried a lot of storage options and this one is the best.

      They sell another bookcase that is awesome for vinyl, too.

      My current favorite store is Zia Records, with locations in Las Vegas, Tucson and Phoenix-if you are ever in the area I recommend giving them a browse!

      Larry

      Delete
    3. @DiscConnected, thanks for the suggestion. I'm going to look into it.
      Ironically enough, I saw my favourite cd store on the news last night. They were interviewing people, asking if they were there buying Prince CD's. One guy was buying Purple Rain and exclaimed it was a bargain and he could probably sell it for a lot of money on ebay now. GEEEEEZZZ!!!!!!!

      Delete
  11. Fond memories there! Larry's line cracked me up: "then his priorities got screwed up and he had offspring." Hahahaha! Love that!

    I used to hang in RecordLand, a store at the mall that I frequented back in the day. Loved going in there, not only because of all the great albums that I'd browse through but all the guys who worked there had gloriously long hair and were hot! :) I'd spend hours reading liner notes and flirting...

    Like you Lee, I've spent so much money on music. I gave all my albums away in a hasty move about 12 years ago and I'm still sick about that. I have a zillion CDs -- and like you too, rarely listen to them anymore. I could probably open a decent IRA with what money I've spent on music!

    Great post.

    Michele at Angels Bark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michele, I know what you're saying. I guess I could pay off my house with all the money I've spent on recorded music and probably still have money left. If I could get what I paid for all the music I now have I would sell it. Sadly you only get pennies on the dollar usually and for me it's not worth selling yet.

      Lee

      Delete
    2. Michelle, I did not mean to imply any mirth in that line. His priorities did indeed get screwed up.

      Larry

      Delete
  12. My husband and I still have a ton of albums and in fact he just brought home several more from a garage sale. He is not digitally inclined and has trouble using something like our Apple TV to connect to iTunes. We really should get him a good turntable, if there are any out there...but then we'd need to rearrange the living room to make room for it and the albums...sounds like too much work to me :) Honey, I'll help you with iTunes...Have a great day Arlee!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janet, I've been tempted to buy one of the reasonably priced turntables advertised on Amazon. I moved my albums out of the living room into my bedroom closet since I don't listen to them. Have a lot of CD's in the living room however.

      Lee

      Delete
  13. I miss record stores too. I spent a lot of time browsing in them. It was neat to go to other cities and browse for treasures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mike, even when I didn't buy anything it was just a pleasure browsing, contemplating the albums, and dreaming about my purchase someday list.

      Lee

      Delete
  14. Surprisingly, on St. Thomas in the 60s, there were several record stores. I spent a lot of time after school pursuing the bins, deciding which album I would buy with my hard heard money. I still have a lot of those albums.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bish, you maybe should hang onto those albums unless you can get some decent money for them. I sold a lot of mine already, but the ones I have left I'm not selling unless I can get premium prices for them--or I get real desperate.

      Lee

      Delete
  15. That used to be the place to hang out, listen to music and talk to people. Another place gone and replaced by the digital download at the computer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. C.Lee, I rarely talked to anybody while I was browsing--the experience was almost spiritual in its solitary nature--but I used to listen to the albums they'd be playing and made some great discoveries due to what they were playing at times when I was in the stores. Digital downloads have certain advantages, but the tangible experience of looking at the record albums and holding them can't be replaced by that newer technology.

      Lee

      Delete
  16. For me, there' nothing like vinyl. I once had a West Side Story LP and played it so much that I wore away the grooves. Another LP, Bob Dylan this time, bit the dust when a boyfriend and I had an argument and I threw it down the stairs (not at him).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Em, I played and played many of my albums and years later when I played some of those I was surprised that they still sounded okay even though they were well worn. My albums were like sacred objects--I would never have thrown any of them no matter how angry I was.

      Lee

      Delete
  17. I still listen to my CD's and my records! I will never give them up and love listening that way. When I would go to Toronto there used to be Sam, the Record Man right on Yonge St. It was a staple for years and everyone could see the lit up record with the lights going around in circles. Alas, it is no longer there. I buy DVD's also and there is a store nearby where i can just lose myself in. On a sad note, i just heard prince passed away. This has been a sad year for muscicians

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Birgit, I've been listening to the comments on the radio about Prince. It was all over the TV when I had it on while I was eating lunch. Sad loss.

      I don't plan on getting rid of any music in the near future, but as things stand now if I could get the right money for anything in my collection I'd likely liquidate. I'd rather have money than stuff.

      When I used to stay in Toronto in the 80's I'd stay at an outlying hotel along the freeway north of the city and on off days I'd take the subway to the Eaton Center. Across the street from there were all of the record stores I'd visit. It's kind of sad if they're all gone, but I guess it's inevitable.

      Lee

      Delete
  18. Lee-

    I'd forgotten I replied to you way back then. Obviously, this is my favorite post in your series!

    Sounds Of Saint Mark's...Smash...Bleeker Bob's...memories.

    Now I mostly browse Zia Records (various locations in AZ and NV) and Revolver Records (AZ) and of course, online.

    When I was a teenager, a new record was an event. It could be a date, a basis for a party, or some time alone for reflection.

    Nowadays, music seems to mostly be just background.

    I think popular music reflects that-not many "Dark Sides Of The Moon" being recorded these days.

    I pity whoever has to dispose of my collection...I had to paint the room once and needed 100 copied paper boxes to move everything in. And it has grown since then.

    Larry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Larry, someday I'm going to have to come to Phoenix just to see your music collection!

      These days I do look online for music, but only buy for my brother.

      I know what you're saying about the "new record event". I was almost obsessive in that I'd have to listen to an entire album from beginning to end. It was not a matter of just listening to certain songs, but the album in its organic whole. Sadly I don't focus too much on the music only except for watching YouTube on my TV. Recently I've started doing that and can get lost in listening as well as watching.

      I do kind of miss those old days where I'd just sit by the record player looking at the album covers and the enclosures while absorbing all the music to its greatest depth. If there are the great albums like "DSOTM" being made still. I'm missing out on them.

      On May 15th I'm planning a shocker of a Battle of the Bands based on a recent album that I have been listening to and loving. Everyone might shun me after my revelation, but I have to be truthful.

      Lee

      Delete
  19. vinyl was certainly the best - and I'm not just saying that because I'm over 40 - David - http://britsintheus23.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David, I loved vinyl though I do think CD's are the most convenient and most transportable.

      Lee

      Delete
  20. There used to be a music store that had records and older music for sale where I live, but they closed. Now the only music available to buy is in Walmart. Bleh.

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patricia, Walmart probably doesn't have much that I'd be interested in buying. If I were buying. I have a Walmart in the shopping center across from where I live but I rarely go there and if I do I don't look in their CD department.

      Lee

      Delete
  21. >>... Can you recall some of your old favorite haunts for buying recorded music?

    LEE, like you and LC, I spent untold hours browsing for and buying music. "Licorice Pizzas" (vinyl LPs) first, of course, and later compact discs.

    There were lots of record stores in L.A., and even one chain actually called "Licorice Pizza" (I bought my first Warren Zevon album there, at the one on Wilshire Blvd.)

    But one of my favorite record stores was TOWER on Sunset Boulevard, which was the biggest record store in the country back then (I could lost for hours at a time in that TOWER store).

    I spent more time shopping and buying at the TOWER in Westwood Village, because it was closer to home, and later I worked at UCLA in Westwood Village. But although it had a huge selection (the entire upper floor was Jazz), the TOWER on Sunset Boulevard was massive.

    My other favorite was RHINO RECORDS on Westwood Boulevard but a little South of the Village. RHINO was a legendary place. Not big, but filled with hard-to-find recordings, lots of obscure Blues albums, and it was the first place I knew of that sold "Used" LPs. I got a lot of good stuffs there at discounted "Used" and "Cut Out" prices.

    And, as everyone knows, that smallish record store became SO POPULAR, with its rare stuffs, that it later became the famous record label RHINO, which specialized in formerly out-of-print releases and new compilations of older (and sometimes nearly forgotten) musical artists.

    Sadly, all three of those record stores I spent the most hours browsing in are gone now, although the RHINO RECORDS label still exists.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. STMcC, both Tower and Rhino that you mention were still in existence when I moved here in 1991. So many times I drove by the Tower on Sunset, but I never stopped there because my kids or someone else was always with me and we were on our way somewhere else.

      I did used to go to Tower locations nearer my house and frequently purchased music. Now I can't even say where the nearest outright recorded music store is. But it doesn't matter anyway since I don't buy music and the obscurities I normally would look for can usually only be found online anyway.

      I have a few RHINO released CD's.

      Lee

      Delete
  22. I've never really been a browser. When I would go to a record/tape/CD store, it was usually to get something specific, not just to browse and see what I could come up with. I would either go in with the idea of getting something by a band or to get a specific album, and have several alternatives if that one wasn't available.

    All of my music is stored electronically now. I haven't had a turntable in close to twenty years (we just threw out a bunch of albums that had been sitting in the garage almost that long), and while Mary has a stereo that has tape decks and a CD carousel in it, it's in her office and she rarely uses it. We have no more tapes and what CD's I do have need to go somewhere. I have about 7000 songs on my iPod (one of the first video ones), with the same music on my hard drive in iTunes and uploaded to Amazon Music.

    We had a chain of music stores in Atlanta called Turtle's that used to give out stamps. If you filled up a card, you got a free CD or tape. I only collected enough for one album before they went out of business. In Chicago, we had Playback ("The Electronic Playground") stores, several stores called Laury's that had an incredible collection of music, Musicland (I guess they were nationwide), Rose's Records... and those were just the big stores. It seemed that every neighborhood had at least one and usually two music stores. Probably all out of business by now...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, Yes, I remember Turtle's. I wouldn't be surprised if still had my stamps somewhere as I never redeemed any. Other than a few independents, I don't think there are any recorded music stores in Los Angeles. I don't know of any near where I live.

      Sometimes I would go into a record store with intent and then I'd start browsing which would be the monkey wrench in the works. I might leave with a different album or more albums than intended. One thing for sure is that with every visit my wish list became longer.

      Lee

      Delete
  23. I loooove my Saturday record store job. We have tons of old-school collectors, but now that vinyl is big again, we have a lot of kids collecting it for the first time. A couple of weeks ago was National Record Store Day, and we had folks lined up around the block just to buy stuff at our little store. Long live vinyl!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kelly, glad to hear that vinyl is still in favor with the upcoming generations. And that there is a good record store in Knoxville. I'm sure there are more than a few within a 50 mile radius from me, but I don't think there are any within 5 miles from me. But I don't really look for recorded music anymore.

      Lee

      Delete

Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee