Another one bites the dust

(Photo by Aram Sinnreich)

So long record stores, it’s been good to know you.

People born after 2000 or so will have no memory of how record stores once anchored pop culture.

9 thoughts on “Another one bites the dust

  1. There is nothing like a good record store… I have watched a couple of my favorites close their doors in recent years as well. It’s a shame, and there is now doubt these endangered record stores helped define pop culture in music. I can spend all day searching through stacks of vinyl and used CD’s… but it looks like I will soon be spending all day driving to the nearest record store.

  2. I heard Andrew Keen on NPR plugging his book about the End of Civilization As We Know It: “The Cult of the Amateur”. He said “If bookstores or newspapers or encyclopedias are road kill, then what kind of society is this.” I think we could add record stores to that list.

    And if we’re going to wax nostalgic, I remember riding home from the record store in the back of the car clutching my 45 and reading the label over and over, desperately antipating that moment when I would drop the needle…

  3. I wonder if the recording era will be thought of as an aberration from a normal state of things, before and after, where the amateur ruled and arts were assumed to be participatory.

  4. Yes, I think you may be right.

    Although at a time when people are consuming music like M&Ms, are they making more? Do we need a music-making Blackberry, so you can record your own tunes while you commute? My gosh, someday people may return to humming and whistling!

  5. You could argue that consuming tunes like M&Ms — prolific, transient, lightly involved — is more interactive than consuming tunes like scrolls coming down off the mountain. I guess that I really do believe this, except that M&M listening is so heavily influenced by television shows like American Idol.

    Maybe this new style of interacting with music is the new way of doing what we used to go to record stores for. You’re still flipping through record bins, it’s just that you do it more often, with bigger bins and less friction.

  6. Yes, it’s been argued in academia (cf Walter Ong) that new media is returning us to a culture of “orality” like in Homer’s day, and that the period of “literacy” starting roughly 2,500 years ago is at an end. I think there is some truth in this, although I’d argue that the new period of “configurability” shares traits with both orality and literacy.

    Also, per the other comment, 21st C. kids will definitely know how important record stores once were — because they’ll still be reading/watching “High Fidelity.”

  7. What’s “configurability” in this context, Aram? Sounds interesting, but I don’t have an immediate intuitive picture of what that means.

    About “High Fidelity”, it disturbs me that this movie is such a cultural milestone. At the time that came out I was square in the middle of that subculture, spending Saturdays hanging out at the snobby record store to chat with the employees and rag on the other customers.

  8. About the terrible movie “High Fidelity”, I wish to make a tangential remark. There are many things in our culture for which there does not exist an adequate movie. Movies are good at capturing the essence of certain things, like anxiety over loss, or ambivalence about parents, or being stalked by a small doll with a knife, and terrible at more culturally specific things, like graffiti, or cycling, or record stores of the 1990s.

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