Write Now: Besides Records, Record Stores Held A Wealth Of Information

It was like yesterday.

I have fond memories of going to the mall as young teen.

It was the transition between sixth and seventh grade. That summer some things changed. I have always loved music in some form or shape, but as a young teen, I began to play with my toys less.

The change wasn’t a bad thing. It just meant my G.I. Joe was going to have to ride the pines. In other words, it was time for him to experience the shelf. He would still get some playing time, but nothing like he was used to.

His replacement — music.

During that summer, I started loving music more. I listened to what music was on the radio. Back then, AM radio played the hits and FM played the albums and longer cuts. FM had better fidelity, and was clearer. But AM and FM radio stations were not the reasons I put G.I. Joe on the shelf. It was just music. As I heard more songs, I wanted to know more about the artist or artists behind the songs.

There were only so many outlets where one could find out such information. One either had to read the few magazines of the day like “Creem” or “Rolling Stone” to find out what musicians were saying or one could go to a record store. I read “Rolling Stone” more than I read “Creem.” In the record store, those magazines were sold, but one could also read record covers or jackets. On those jackets, there was information about the band and the recording process.

It was not like now where technology has made it easier to find that information. To a degree, technology changes the playing field. Technology can create jobs, and technology can take away jobs. Technology is a double-edged sword that has become norm.

Enough about technology.

During and after that summer, whenever I got a chance to spend any time in any record store, I cherished it. That was my time because my intention may have been to buy one specific album, but after reading some record jackets, I bought an album because the liner notes intrigued me. And also I liked the band. It was fun because I would pore though so much information. I would voraciously read through that material of which I could not get enough.

Reading that material was like getting two for the price of one. Oddly, and ironically, I did not have the same motivation in a book store.

I didn’t start reading books for pleasure until I was in high school and beyond. When I was younger, I preferred reading periodicals. I found that they offered the same information, but with half or one-quarter of the length of a book. As I got older, I loosened my view about books.

In the record store, it felt like a second home. I could find out all of this information just by browsing. It was like being in a library just for records. I mean record libraries are real, but back then, they were called record collections.

Even as technology ushered in a new way to listen to music — digitally — with compact discs, and then the mp3 format, it didn’t stop me from looking for information.

With CDs, there used to be rectangular boxes that held the CD, and on the box was the information. It was also printed on the CD sleeve, once the box was discarded. But with an mp3 or downloadable song, that information was somewhat lost.

But that information could be found somewhere else on the Internet because the artist or band uses a website or another form of social media to engage listeners and fans.

It’s the same information, but just presented differently.

I miss the record stores.

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