At a recent conference at SXSW the panel asked the room, “How many of you remember the first record you bought?” The entire room raised their hands. “How about the first song you downloaded?” they continued. About half the room kept their hands up. “And how about the first song you streamed?” Two people had their hands raised. Memories are made when you can actually touch and hold the music, whether it’s the decorative cardboard of a vinyl LP, the compact and oh so hard to read plastic case of a cassette, or the ultra convenient for its time CD (you can actually skip tracks!).
I missed out on the golden age of the LP so now I just collect them. I do remember the first CD I bought though. I remember ripping the plastic off “The Best of The Doors” and just staring at that cover: a shirtless Jim Morrison with his arms outstretched. I got it because I was writing a ton of poetry and a friend had told me that The Doors were just poetry with music. I loved that double disc set and The Doors became one of my favorite bands. While most people would think a best of compilation might be a great way to skip an artists other works, that CD actually started me on a mission to buy every one of The Doors albums. Each time I did I tried to find at least one song that wasn’t on that best of CD that I liked. I found at least one every time.
I don’t remember which song I first downloaded, although I do remember one of the first things I got online was a WAV file (yes, a WAV file!) of Homer Simpson expressing his love of nachos while parodying The Village People’s “Macho Man.” I don’t stream very much, but I loved LaLa.com back before Apple killed it.
Record Store Day celebrates this tangible ownership. Each year, more and more artists send special vinyl releases to independent record stores everywhere. This year the artists run the gambit from rock legends (AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Queen) to bands most people are listening to (Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Lady GaGa) and artists most people should be listening to (Adele, Ray LaMontagne, Matt Costa). There’s a good balance of unreleased material and rereleases as well as full LPs versus 7-inch singles. You can check out some of the releases definitely worth your money here courtesy of the fine people at Paste Magazine.
Record Store Day is April 16. For more information visit http://www.recordstoreday.com