April 18th, 2008 at 2:12 pm
In case you havenât heard, April 19 (this Saturday) is Record Store Day. Itâs when independent record store owners hope people will set aside their nanos to buy some vinyl, as in either an LP (that stands for long-playing) or 45 (as in 45 rpm) record. Even more hardcore record junkies, like Joe Bussard and underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, know the joys of picking up a pre-World War II bluesÂ recording in the form of a 78 rpm shellac disc, which breaks if you drop it.
For duffers like me, there was nothing more thrilling than getting an LP, opening it up and discovering that a poster, 45 or some flat little goodie falling outside of the sleeve as a bonus. There was that special care in holding the record by the edges, dusting it off, placing the phonograph needle in the groove, sitting back and letting the music waft through the speakers.
Now, music has been reduced to little bytes and megs that canât even be held, unless itâs inside an iPod or mp3 player, and much of it is listened through earphones the size of lima beans.
Now, I love my iPod Shuffle like nobodyâs business, but when Iâm doing my serious music searching, thereâs nothing like a record. Rabid music collectors know that thereâs a good bit of vinyl from the past that was never re-issued on CD, whether itâs independent college music back from the 1980s, or mainstream stuff from the 1960s and earlier.
Growing up in Fayetteville, I bought my records at the Record Exchange on Dickson Street (located, I believe, in a spot now occupied by the Walton Arts Center and, later, in a place called The Boardwalk that was swallowed up by The Uark Bowl), White Dog (where Cool Water Restaurant is now), Sound Warehouse when it was in Evelyn Hills Shopping Center and Hastings before it moved to Fiesta Square from the Northwest Arkansas Mall. Even Kmart and Wal-Mart could deliver the goods from time to time, and it wasnât unheard of a supermarket to have a small selection of best-selling 45s and LPs as well.
Then there was the road trip. Starship Records in Tulsa was the place where I could find the records I wished Fayetteville was selling. It was an event, and usually involved no less than two other people in the car as we made our way westward.
Now even the vinyl-buying road trip has been replaced by eBay.
I know of only two independent music stores regionally that sell vinyl: Off the Record in Van Buren and Sound Warehouse in Fayetteville. Hastings and Vintage Stock, which are chains, sell small selections of vinyl. Though theyâre not record stores, thereâs a lot to be said for the Salvation Army and other nonprofit thrift stores. Flea markets have been known to deliver gems as well.
Does anyone else know of any other independent record stores in the area thatâs worth noting? How about naming other notable record stores from the past? After all, Record Store Day could not only be the day to recognize the dying practice of selling vinyl. It could also mean paying homage to those businesses that are no longer here.