Record Store Day

As mcbrennan and The New York Times remind me, today is Record Store Day in the US.

I offer three anecdotes:

1. Back in the day, there used to be a whole district of radio-repair shops in lower Manhattan. It was a thriving district, but by the late 60s it was thriving with cranky old men who gathered in musty shops arguing about arcana. Then David Rockefeller got the idea to wipe the district off the face of the earth and put the World Trade Center there instead. Overnight, a dying, outmoded business disappeared, and the World Trade Center stood in that spot, triumphant and unmovable, 110 stories tall and proud, for, um, 28 years. Well, all things must pass, and pride goeth before a fall, and substitute “record stores” for “radio-repair” and “iTunes” for “World Trade Center” and maybe, perhaps, you won’t feel so bad about the passing of this particular dusty institution.

2. I have spent more time in used record stores than probably any other kind of store in my life. I have, literally, thousands of used-record-store stories, of which only three or so are of interest to anyone but me. Suffice to say, when I was a teenager, living in an unheated trailer in southern Illinois in March of 1980, literally starving to death, living on a 25-cent can of store-brand spaghetti a day and a 33-cent frozen chicken-pot-pie on Sundays, a friend sent me 20 dollars in a letter. Fifteen dollars of that 20 dollars I spent on food, five I spent on a copy of Elvis Costello’s Get Happy!!

3. When I moved to New York in the autumn of 1983, ground zero of my existence was Tower Records at Broadway and 4th St. Tower was a five-minute walk from St. Mark’s Place, which held Sounds, St. Mark’s Books, Venus Records and a few other choice used-record stores. My goal for being a New Yorker was to live within a block of Broadway and 4th St. I lived in New York for 22 years and by 1999 I achieved my goal, living in a loft at Broadway and Washington Place, finally within walking distance of all the places I considered the lifeblood of my creative imagination. Any given Tuesday afternoon I could be found making the trek from Tower to St. Mark’s to the Strand and back. Including Tuesday, September 11, 2001, upon which morning I watched the World Trade Center burn on my TV, 1.5 miles away from the site, then walk downstairs and head over to Tower. The sidewalks were filled with refugees fleeing the financial district and Tower was filled with sobbing, distraught New Yorkers watching the TV monitors. I took all this in, and then bought Bob Dylan’s “Love and Theft” and Leonard Cohen’s Ten New Songs and went back home.

Support your local record store today! I will be at Amoeba in Hollywood this evening. (And let me just note that it was only a couple of years ago that the opening of Amoeba, which is a great store, forced the closing of several worthy Hollywood used record stores. Plus ca change.

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9 Responses to “Record Store Day”
  1. rckdjbear says:


    I’m originally from New Jersey, so from 1982 to 2000, those same NYC Stores were also part of my Sunday routine-(drive to Hoboken, path train to Christopher St, walk to Tower to check out the Import CD singles, then to be at Sounds when they opened at Noon. I once stood across from STEVE BUSCEMI inside Sounds, as we were both looking at Used Records. Then I would walk back to the East Side stopping at RECORD RUNNER, and REBEL REBEL,maybe sticking my head inside Bleeker Bobs. Then I would put my records in the car, and head for THE DUGOUT around 4pm. Your post brought back some great memories.

    • Todd says:

      Re: SOUNDS

      Sounds, you may remember, used to have its own jazz annex on Stuyvesant. There’s a Japanese restaurant there now, but one day I was in there buying some Coltrane and looked up to find Thurston Moore riffling through the racks next to me.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m 22 and I asked for and recieved a turntable for Christmas. It’s not top of the line by any stretch but it has an adaptor so I can transfer vinyl to my computer and it plugs directly into my current stereo. I’m in love with it. I’ve been picking up all the cool and collectible 7″s and 12″s from all the punk bands I love (Against Me!, the Draft, Off With Their Heads, etc.). I was lucky enough to have saved a whole bunch of LPs from when my parents were getting rid of stuff in our basement. For two squares, they had a few decent records namely Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin IV, Tommy, Who’s Next, and a few others.

    Unfortunately, I’m in a place (Central PA) where there are no used or even new record stores. So unfortunately, I can’t join in on this joyous celebration of all things outmoded but surviving…like William Shatner.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What a great post, Todd.

    I have a similar love of book shops.

    Go save your local traders, before the soulless mega stores and downloads kill them all!

  4. kornleaf says:

    naming every day a different day recognizing something, be it pop singers, secretaries, gallbladder health or broccoli, seems frivolous and makes it all so meaningless.

    like the guiness book of world records.

  5. off-topic

    I completely missed Record Store Day, but I wanted to mention that I just watched Cloverfield, mostly because your blog reminded me to do so.

    I loved it, and am totally confused as to the backlash. It was just so straightforward and so effective! Like that initial tripod-laser sequence from War of the Worlds expanded to an hour and a bit. (Hell, I liked these characters better than Tom Cruise’s kids in WOTW.) I thought it was perfect.

  6. When I was 18-20 years old I moved from the suburbs to downtown Pittsburgh because I was attending Art School. I lived in a dump of an apartment, infested with roaches and (probably) rats. Living as close to the river as I did probably had a lot to do with it. But it was all worth it, for on the ground floor of my apartment was the original location of Eide’s Comics & Records.

    Thousands and thousands of old and new comics AND even a bigger selection of new, used and bootleg LP’s and 45’s. I spent a ton of time and $$$$$ there.

    Eide’s still survives, having moved into town at a larger location in town. As for the original shop that also housed my old apartment?
    Long gone. Knocked down, orphaning all those vermin.
    It’s now where center field is for the baseball field, PNC Park.