Saturday, April 18, 2009

Record Store Day 2009

Today is the second annual Record Store Day. This is a day for music lovers. Sure, the economy is shot. The record business is too, but that was started long ago by the creeps running record labels who have increasingly become not music lovers, but businessmen with bad ideas. There are exceptions of course, but not enough of them.

This is what I had to say last year and I think it's worth repeating today:

Record stores, while rapidly diminishing are still a great source of pleasure for music lovers everywhere. They have a smell. Downloading is easy, but it's impersonal. Even though most of you are here to do just that. Instead of plying you with a bunch of compressed mp3's, I urge you to go out and buy something today. Something that you can hold in your hands, with writing on the back and pictures or a booklet with all kinds of information and artwork to peruse while you listen to it. Go to a real record store, not Walmart or the Virgin Megastore if you can help it. Go somewhere and look around. Buy something on a whim. Buy something because you like the cover. Buy something because someone told you it's good or it has a funny title. Take a chance. Go buy one of the records you heard here or somewhere else. I can tell you where I bought most of the records in my collection, because record stores are fun...

Record stores are important too. People that run them and work in them know stuff that you don't. There are celebrations and instore performances taking place everywhere today.

If you are in Phoenix, Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets is playing at Zia Records. In Nashville, Charlie Louvin and Del McCoury are gonna be at Grimeys. Jay Reatard is at Goner in Memphis. Mark Olson and Gary Louris from the Jayhawks are at Waterloo in Austin, I'm gonna go listen to a preview of the new Dylan record at Other Music in New York City today. Bill Callahan is playing there later too. In St Louis, the Bottle Rockets are playing at Euclid Records, one of my favorite places, and they're also unveiling the latest of their exclusive 7" singles by none other than NRBQ's Terry Adams. Make sure you tell Euclid owner Joe Schwab happy birthday. John Paul Keith & The One Four Fives are at the Disc Exchange in Knoxville, and Wilco are gonna be there signing autographs. There's tons of shit happening everywhere, plus it's spring and you should get away from your computer anyway and enjoy the beautiful weather. For more info on Record Store Day, go HERE.


I wasn't gonna post anything to download today, but I do have one thing to offer up. This is an unlikely collaboration between Swamp Dogg and friend of Fluville, Ben Greenman. Ben is a writer at The New Yorker, co-proprietor of Moistworks, and the author of several books. His latest novel, Please Step Back, is the fictional story of a soul singer named Rock Foxx, troubled and living San Francisco in the late sixties and early seventies. Ben wrote some lyrics to an unrecorded Rock Foxx song for the novel, and asked Jerry Williams (AKA Swamp Dogg) if he would like to compose some music and record it. And he did.

Here's what Ben had to say about it...

"The song is pretty important in the book because it's all about verticality. He gets high often because, well, he has a problem, and he's always seeking ground -- solid ground, and personal rootedness. But in the song, he's trying to make sense of it. It's all about gravity and bounce and birds. Things that affect the vertical. As Swamp Dogg was making his song I also made a horrendous 30-second version myself, which was how I imagined Rock Foxx would sing it -- slow, draggy, and druggy. Since I can't sing and there were no instruments, it was a super-raw demo. I destroyed it immediately. I'm glad I did, because it was horrendous, but I have it somewhere in my head, and it helps me see what a great job Swamp Dogg did with the song."

For more of the backstory on this great and unusual collaboration, go to Largehearted Boy.


"Please Step Back" mp3
by Swamp Dogg, 2009.
via Largehearted Boy

Okay, now go out and buy a Swamp Dogg record. I suggest Total Destruction To Your Mind or Rat On! Buy anything that tickles your fancy. Just get out and support your local record dealer. Have fun, and if you feel like it, let me know what you picked up today in the comments below.

If you live on the West Coast, Ben Greenman is going to be reading at some of the finer bookstores out there in the next few weeks. We'll save the dilemma of bookstores for another post.


top photograph: © Ted Barron
Del-Pen Market, St. Louis, Missouri, 1986.


Anonymous said...

Got to meet Wilco today at the Disc Exchange and I gotta tell you, those guys are super-nice. Also picked up the new Felice Brothers and Hacienda discs. Record Store Day will definitely be a yearly event that I support!

Dan said...

As a guy who works in radio, record store day sucks canal water. It's a cheap attempt to encourage people to visit strange stores to purchase crap they don't want, so that moronic MBA's (who know nothing about music) can keep their jobs. And, yup, I'm no young pup; I'm 53. Accountants rule the record business these days, and that's the problem. They don't know music.

Anonymous said...

neither do most radio dj's

Ted Barron said...

Good point. I was thinking the same thing myself. Radio, is also not what it used to be and not what it appears to be. Most radio, even sattelite and public radio stations, have pre-programmed playlists that have little editorial input from the people playing them.

I don't see anything bad about record store day, and from what I understand, it was concocted last year by record store owners. True, the record companies got behind it this year, but how can that be a bad thing? And, I can only speak for myself, but I only ever buy records that I want to LISTEN to. "Strange stores" as anonymous refers to them, are I assume independently owned record stores that are not a reflection of the crap that the music industry is trying to feed consumers. We need these places. This is where I learned about music, and I'm not a youngster anymore. There was no internet, and mainstream press, and especially the radio wouldn't touch a lot of things I deemed important in my formative years.

Okay, now that I've responded to that, I made the rounds yesterday, at my neighborhood record stores in Brooklyn: Academy, Earwax, Permanent and Sound-Fixe and they were all packed with people buying records. There were several limited edition 7" singles released yesterday and they were all sold out by the time I got there early in the afternoon. This is a good sign. I did pick up a Tyrone Davis compilation of his Dakar singles, and The Best of the Worst of The Oblivians.

I like music.

Mark said...

I love radio, but as a concept, not necessarily what I find on the airwaves. Radio stations take their formats a little too seriously. Even NPR, which I listen to a lot, deserves its share of derision. Viva la free form! And I love record stores too. I can't help but think about Flat Black and Circular in East Lansing, where I spent countless hours and made so many important finds over the years. They had easy chairs where you listen to the records before buying. Songs a propos: Slim Gaillard. "Jumpin at the Record Shop." and "Daddy Gonna Tell You No Lies," by the Cosmic Rays, w/ Sun Ra, "I went down to the record shop ..."

The Intl said...

Maybe Dan's post is fake. "Visit strange stores"? That just sounds stupid. What does he do in radio, vacuum the offices? And gee I'm no young pup either, 57 next month & I'm going to Record Time in Roseville Michigan to get all the crap I DO want. And you should too. Go - Buy - Dig.