Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a mythical shop(pe?) of magic and wonder. Crossing the gaping threshold of a glass door slathered in posters, your entrance would be heralded with the majestic tinkle of an automated buzz and the stoic nod or simple look from some guy in a black hoodie, slapping the bar code on a back of a double-fold for a band so obscure you immediately, desperately commit it to memory. CDs line the walls, LPs form makeshift aisles... And, inexplicably, they seem to be in a solid form.
You search frantic for the download button. Sweat dots your brow. The download button... does not come.
Welcome, my friend, to the record store.
The above anecdote is tongue-in-cheek and sounds like a lecture, but, honestly, it's for myself-- I grew up on mp3s and the Shuffle button. My generation was the first to have the inter web as a true mainstay. Fourth grade was when we got our first dial-up. Sixth grade everyone had an e-mail address. Seventh grade, a screen name. I don't mean to get sidetracked, but the point is the amount of times I've hit a record store prior to living in Chi-Town could've been counted on both hands and one foot. I wrap myself in a cocoon of blog and grow on via osmosis on the nutrients of streaming radio.
But, despite the digital age, record stores have yet to join the ranks of Camelot and Kennequhair (unfortunately; a unicorn or two could've really helped Virgin), and tomorrow's third annual Record Store Day was made to celebrate that. The record store has long been a staple of the music underground, a mainstay of "the scene." They've served as hang-out spots, performance venues, release hubs, review columns, and (of course) music retailers. They are important simply because they remind us that music is actually there. Music is a thing that is real, tangible, social-- something beyond the 99 cents on your credit card statement (if that, you sneaky buggers).
So get out tomorrow (look out your window and just try claiming weather as an excuse), go flirt with the guy (or girl) behind the counter, go talk about reggae at length with the manager, go avoid the homeless guy outside and collect a pile of concert flyers and shuffle through the pile of mislabeled singles in the corner. You owe it to yourself-- nay, to music-kind-- to embrace the record stores that remain and mourn those we have lost (RIP, A&B Sound).