There’s few things I remember crystal clearly but I remember the day I bought this album. Every time I listen to it I’m transported back to that day and I get that weird ache. The one where you long to be in that memory you’re recalling so bad it hurts.
Back when record stores meant everything in the world. I was a kid who was raised in record stores with a dad who was a dj. A dad who made me appreciate vinyl and music in general. Some of my best memories are from watching him test out his dj equipment. He’d set everything up in the corner of our apartment. He’d have the disco lights going playing everything from motown to classic rock. I would just sit there and soak it all in while he would sing along to songs on the mic. He would ask me if I wanted to go to the record store with him all the time to pick up some random song he needed to get or some hard to find piece of vinyl. I always knew if I went I would get a tape or a CD. Back when CDs came in those long cardboard boxes. I would get so excited holding one because it seemed so special.
When I got older I would just go to tower records and walk the aisles. Me and one of my best friends would go to the record store like it was an event on the weekends just for fun. Dance along to the music in the aisles. I remember hearing Fiona Apple’s “First Taste” one day in the store and we got so excited that we danced to every second of that song. Back in those days when artists like Tori Amos were necessities and not just an acquired taste.
We’d read every magazine and music book we could find. I’d look for import CD singles from my favorite bands and I just had to find that one Tori Amos “Hey Jupiter” single that had a bonus track of “Honey (Live)” on it. Back when you could find a random Johnny Cash greatest hits cassette tape for $3 that you still keep in your car to this day.
I’d be so excited to find a 4 pack of purple blank cassette tapes because i knew I could make really pretty mixes on them full of what I thought were really great essential songs. Tapes that I’d be so happy to have during my first year of college when the guy who sat in front of me in my philosophy class, who looked just like Duncan Sheik, would ask me what kind of music I liked. I’d say to him, “I’ll make you a tape,” and I did. Blank tapes that I’d make dozens of mixes for my best friend on that I hope still exist somewhere out there in the universe.
And I found some of my favorite musical artists of all time in those record stores. Listening to new releases on listening stations. “If you’re a fan of Dashboard Confessional and Jimmy Eat World you’ll like this band.” Don’t mind if I do. And I kept listening to that band for the next 10 years. None of which would have happened if I hadn’t clocked in those precious hours in all of those record stores.
But I remember that day, waiting for my Film class to start, taking a stroll through the Stonestown Tower Records. Seeing that new Ryan Adams cd. I was desperate for new music. I liked a song from his previous album “Gold” well enough. I remember the video for it was the first thing I saw that wasn’t a horrible news report after 9/11. MTV kept playing the “New York, New York” video with that intro disclaimer about how the video was shot just days before the towers dropped. The song was so beautiful but with what had just happened it all felt so haunting.
So I took a chance on someone I didn’t really know. I bought both cds and showed up to my class early. I went into the large empty film theater and sat down. Can you even remember how it felt to just buy a new cd. To open it up and pull out the insert. It seems like such a small thing now but this was a fucking ritual back then. It was part of the feeling. Pulling out that disc and placing it in a cd player.
I laid my head back and listened to that entire cd all by myself in that theater. When he sang “she wants to play a game of hearts. i fell for you. why? i guess i wanted to play too” I was hooked. I was a kid who had just turned 20 and my life felt like it was on the verge and I would eat up every fucking beautiful lyric of that beautiful album. And I still eat up every beautiful word to that beautiful album.