While wasting my time on Facebook recently (and, honestly, isn’t that the most accurate way of describing it?) I came across a provocatively titled and needlessly epic-length blog post dubbed “It’s Finally Time to Stop Caring About Lauryn Hill.” Personally speaking, while I do own both The Score by the Fugees and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, I’d suggest that the time to stop caring about Ms. Hill transpired well before the Clinton Administration left office, but whatever.
In any case, in an attempt to frame the passage of time and how it related to Ms. Hill’s celebrated debut album, the author of the post had this to say….
My introduction to this masterpiece is not just an illustration of the power of the music, but how long ago it was released. There are no more record stores, and these days we rarely come into contact with new CDs. The idea of going to a store to discover music seems downright prehistoric.
Somewhat predictably, to the assertion above, I have this to say: Fuck you.
For a start, there ARE still a few record stores, although their numbers are small. I regularly come into contact with new compact discs, and I still think going into a music shop to discover new tunes is one of the best ways to do it (it just requires a little more effort, you lazy so-and-so).
My palpable vitriol notwithstanding, though, this blogger still has a point. Things aren’t like they used to be when it comes to discovering, acquiring and — I so hate to use this word but I suppose it’s entirely applicable - consuming new music. My friend and fellow ILXOR veteran Jody Beth Rosen posted something on my Facebook page yesterday that tellingly and poetically illustrated this point.
The Unofficial Guide to Music in Greenwich Village and More evidently dates back to March of 1995 and it’s a lovingly-if-clunkily composed roster for music shoppers of a different age. I’m sure I composed comparable lists innumerable times. Breaking proceedings down into geographical portions, the piece’s author — one Bob Gajarsky (where are you today, Bob?) cites downtown Manhattan’s then-robust array of record and disc shops, going into detail about the strengths and weaknesses of each shop.
If you miss and fetishize NYC record and disc shops like I do, it’s a tear-stained stroll down memory lane. It’s also worth noting that of about the fifty-or-so shops Bob cites, only about 8 of them actually remain in operation in one form or another. Chew on that.
And speaking of lost music shops, check out this sprawling oral history of Kim’s Video & Music.
And if it's paens to lost record stores you love, might I direct you to these other posts from Flaming Pablum:
Don't Bother Lookin' For'em: Great Since Closed NYC Record Shops
Where the Music Used to Live
Where the Music Used to Live: Slight Return
Where the Music Lived: REMIX
Where the Music Lived: Remastered Extra Tracks