I recently drove to the only remaining CD store within reasonable driving distance of where I live. It is an FYE chain CD and video store. The selection was never great, and most items were overpriced. But it was the last remaining CD store for me after the Tower Records stores closed down a few years ago.
I would go to the FYE store occasionally to browse. And over the years there were a few CDs I wanted to get on the first day out, so I would take the drive to this store.
Today, when I stopped at the store, it was adorned by a large “Going Out of Business” sign. I was so heartbroken I could not even take advantage of the 50% off sale.
It is odd to despair about the demise of a commercial enterprise. I am sad even though the cause of the demise, the Internet, has played an important role in helping me discover new music that I might never have found on my own in the record stores. But I cannot help feeling the loss from the closing of the CD/Record stores.
Today, I purchased Two Men with the Blues by Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis. I still remember the first three CDs I bought when the format was new. They were Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.
Before that, I remember as a child saving my money to buy 45 rpm records at a small-town GC Murphy five-and-dime store to play on my portable record player. In college, I haunted the record stores on Coventry Road in Cleveland, discovering European recordings and bootleg LPs. As I moved around as an adult, there were always record and CD stores that were often open late at night where one could find new discoveries, old friends, or comfort from sadness, heartbreak, or loneliness.
I have a 160GB iPod that lets me carry around my entire music collection. In my youth, I dreamed of being able to do that when I used to take long drives to visit my family in college and later. Instead, during those drives I would have to select the tapes or CDs that would fit in a case to take with me.
One loss from the iPod and computerized music, besides sound quality, is that I rarely listen to a single album repeatedly any more. There’s too much convenience to go to the next album, the next song, or shuffle play.
There are so many CDs where I listened to them repeatedly before falling in love with them. So I wonder how much music I have lost as the CDs got buried in my digital collection.
For example, last month I read about a CD that sounded good. I downloaded it from Amazon, put it on my iPod, and then forgot the name of the band and album. So, this potential new discovery sits buried somewhere on my iPod, waiting to be found again when I hear one of the songs on shuffle play. Perhaps I’ll never hear the album in its entirety once. That would never have happened in the old days of physical CDs.
One remaining remnant of the past is that my car stereo does not connect directly to my iPod. So I do listen to CDs in my car.
But this summer, due to decreasing space in my small New York apartment, I moved my CDs to vinyl sleeves and little suitcases where they no longer sit out where I can grab them easily. My home stereo CD player died a few years ago and I have not replaced it, instead opting to play my iPod through the stereo.
So today’s purchase will be played in my car and through my iPod. But the CD will probably never be played on a CD player in my home.
So what is my point? Things change and there are good and bad things about the new world order. It is also okay to be glad one had the chance to spend those days and nights in the record stores, and to be sad those days are gone.
I wonder if today’s generation knows what they are missing. At least we still have the music. And book stores. For now.
Do you miss CD/Record stores? Leave a comment.
(Some Related Chimesfreedom Posts)