It’s Record Store Day!

20 Apr

Deathbed Album List in American Songwriter
My desert island disc list.

I almost feel the same way about Record Store Day as I do about Valentine’s Day…why do we need a special day to do something we should do all year round? But I get it, it’s important to mark the institutions and we as a society certainly love calendar excuses to shop.

I read some statistic that physical album sales have dropped 75% since 2001 (or somewhere along those lines). That’s huge. That’s why Best Buy is full of washing machines and not CDs any more. I’ll admit, too – I buy most of my music from iTunes. I usually hear about new things when I’m in the car or reading something online, and it’s easiest to satisfy the “I want it now” urge and press “Buy.”

At the same time, some moments forever seared in my memory happened in record stores. In Albuquerque, I grew up down the street from Hastings, where I would browse for hours and flip through the used stacks in hopes of finding something I hadn’t heard. Media Play was my favorite place to go in middle school…I met the guy that played Donatello in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles there. Like the guy that did the martial arts IN the turtle suit. Hardcore. Media Play is long gone but Hastings is still there, and while it’s a bit more overcome with knickknacks and flatscreen TVs, there’s still music to be had.

The first album I ever bought by choice was Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Come On Come On” because I wanted to learn “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” at my guitar lesson. It was from Target…on cassette. I’m positive my mom bought it for me, but I remember the day.

Mary Chapin Carpenter Ashes and Roses

Getting MCC albums on the day of release has sent me on quite a few shopping expeditions over the years, a memorable one being me forcing my saint of a college roommate, Beth, to drive me to 2 (maybe 3) stores in Albuquerque to get “Between Here and Gone” the day it came out. Why the first couple didn’t have it, I don’t know. I’m sure Beth was more afraid of returning home with a despondent roommate than wasting gas, so she dutifully drove me to Borders where we found it. (Hey, RIP Borders!)

Luckily, Austin has one of the most successful independent record stores in the country – Waterloo Records. They’ve been there since the 70’s and have managed to live through this giant shift in buying habits. They have added some knick-knacky things but this place is still obviously primarily a record store. Part of their longevity has to do with the community experience there…I have seen so many great in-store shows there, and met some pretty great folks there. Patty Griffin, Mindy Smith, Justin Townes Earle, and Shawn Colvin to drop names of amazing songwriters.

Terri Hendrix
Terri Hendrix at Waterloo

If there is a new release I need on disc I get really excited to go to Waterloo on release day, which lately just boils down to people in my Top 5 list…whose catalogs I already have collected on CD. The OCD in me needs to keep things consistent.

I’m not worried about the health of the music industry…people will always want music in their lives. We know the methods of purchase or the mediums we purchase on are changing. Live shows have replaced disc sales in the income ranks for many artists. Instead of griping about it, the successful ones dig in and work with it.

In the meantime, take a moment to browse through the racks if you have a great music store in your town, even if it’s not Record Store Day.

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