Sunday, April 22, 2012

LINER NOTES: Record Store Day

Record Store Day playlist.

Record Store Day was yesterday. As its name suggests, it’s an annual event to promote independent record stores. As someone who grew up in record stores, it’d be understandable to assume I’m an advocate of throwing your disposables down at the local record hop. Then again, I come from a household of "big ice cream, little ice cream" morality tales, so you'll excuse me if I eye any commercial opportunity with a shade of skepticism. That said, record stores are a second home, so songs about the record experience strike a familiar chord.

I started pulling for this theme almost a year ago. It started with Elvis Costello's "45" and The Sharpees' "Do the 45," two songs that aren't directly about 7-inch records, but speak more to the culture or idea that these records represent. This is the angle I quickly learned was the most interesting to me: songs that understand the affect of records and what they represent. Hence, the All New Adventures of Us's "45 Forever" reads a bit maudlin and tortured, but also captures the intimate and loving nature of collecting records. "Put Your Records On" and "Happy Tonite" (to a lesser extent) rely on records as mood-setters, like incense or whatever other shit C&B pushes. And, though I wound up not using it, Cheap Trick's "Surrender" has that solitary line about having your Kiss records out while Mommy and Daddy are "rolling on the couch." In each case, records are like a pet -- a best friend in times of confusion, distress, joy, happiness, etc.

Finding songs specifically about records is inevitable, though amusing in its own right. Songs like "Stack-O-Records," "Square Record" (which prompted recollections from several participants) and pretty much everything off the One More Record Please compare fascinating artifacts that take pleasure in the mere existence of records.1 Better still is the intersection of records and relationships (in both good and bad senses), from "I'm Sending You This Record" to the inevitable "I Wore Out Our Record." I don't quite get the appeal of using records as a sexual metaphor ("Big Ten Inch," "Phonograph Blues"), mostly because a record is flat and round -- two words in combination that hardly scream "mating rituals." My favorites are "Mr. Record Man" and (again) "Stack-O-Records" which capture the process of music discovery in a pre-Shazam-era (which just reminded me of my favorite MWC ep). The richness of approaches to the impact of records is amazing.

Lots of love to everyone that's been comin' out. The group has been steadily growing, which is great, but it's mostly a joy to have this time and space to make something cool with great friends. We'll be back in mid-May (not on a Wednesday, so stay posted).

1. On a side note, are there comparable songs that sing the praises of discovering music through subscription streaming services? I seem to recall a handful of songs with passing mention of listening to iPods. But I am curious about modern, romantic takes on experiencing music (e.g., we crushed out on that iCarly montage sequence, or some such -- you know some kid is experiencing that, whether you like it or not).

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