I miss music stores. I’m not talking about the places loaded with the “if you break it, you buy it” signs on the guitars and some Jimmy Page wannabe plucking out the opening notes of “Stairway.” That’s an instrument shop. (OK fine, it technically qualifies as a a “music store” but I will make my point in a minute so work with me here.) I’m talking about music stores, the kind of place where you can find every album, tape, CD, rock music trade rag, t-shirt and popular sheet music one could ever want. The MUSIC store.
Once upon a time they were everywhere: There was Swann’s on 10th Street, the Listening Booth, Camelot, National Record Mart, a few places in Broad Ripple, etc…all staffed by people who knew all of the latest artists and knew exactly what you were looking for before you even asked. Sometimes it seemed that the employees of these emporiums had nothing to do all day but talk about the lives and careers of the music gods and debate the merits of Freddie Mercury vs. Robert Plant, but in reality, those conversations built a loyal customer base that lasted until digital downloads put the last nail in the coffin of the music industry as we knew it.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to stream my music. I’m as guilty as the next person, but I miss unfolding a double album jacket to see the central photo on the inside. I miss reading the lyrics and liner notes as I listen to a vinyl album for the first time. I miss the work that goes into the art on the cover (some of those albums were truly iconic) and I miss flipping through the poster rack to find that black light Zeppelin poster that I knew my mother would never let me hang in my bedroom.
I tell this story because tonight, I was able to reach out and touch the past. Irvington Vinyl inside Bookmamas is EXACTLY the kind of place we used to have but don’t anymore. From the moment I stepped inside and breathed in the musty smell of wax and old cardboard, I was a goner. (Thank God my purse was in the car or I would be BROKE!) I saw the familiar faces of the Fab Four smiling out from the Meet The Beatles album, a seal copy of Led Zeppelin II and III (they are probably reissues, but who cares?) There was a signed Brian Wilson Smile framed on the wall and I was drooling over some of the old magazines featuring some of my favorite artists.
“Funny thing about old albums is that sometimes the goodies inside were worth more than the actual disc,” I commented offhandedly.
“Very true,” he replied. “Some of that stuff is worth a lot.”
“KISS excelled at that including stickers, tattoos and other things that ended up being the real collector’s items,” I went on. “Of course then there is the bummer of buying an album three or four times only to find out that you still don’t have the rare version. I found that out the hard way with Heart’s Magazine.”
“Oh yeah, if you don’t have the original from the legal dispute when the songs were in a different order it’s not the same,” he confirmed.
Was I really having this conversation after all of these years? Who would have ever believed it? Sure on occasion I see some of these old album covers but usually it is somewhere that people are using them to make attractive tote bags (which feels sacrilegious to me somehow) or in places like Urban Outfitters who wins brownie points for trying but you KNOW none of the employees know what is supposedly so significant about Paul’s bare feet on the Abbey Road cover.
While I know that this is not the only “music” store in the city, it is the closest one to me and I am begging all of my fellow Indy residents to support these businesses who “Keep the Faith,” who “Don’t Stop Beliveing” and who at times are “Livin’ on a Prayer” in order to make sure that the music goes on and on and on and on….
Until Next time, Keep Rockin’,