My good buddy pen-named: Statham, who I met through the record store, has kept in touch via email over the years. We share many common interests, one of which is collecting music. We’ve helped each other find many treasures over the last 15 years.
I thought it might be a fun change of pace (instead of listening to me all the time) to get his perspective on the record store days!
For a view from the other side of the counter, here’s Statham!
RECORD STORE TALES Part 73: Crank It Up! by Statham
Mike asked me to write up something about any memories I have of the old days, back in the record store where he worked. I’ll give it a go.
I do not recall my first-ever visit to Mike’s store. My first memory of that particular company is of taking a shoebox full of old CDs I never played to their other location. But when I moved across town, Mike’s store was my mainstay. I was in there all the time.
You should know, I live in record stores. Always have, since I was old enough to buy my own music. I love the thrill of the hunt, the rare find, the new-to-me disc that branches my brain out into whole new fields of things previously unknown to me. Everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve haunted the record shops. And mostly the used-CD places… the new-CD corporate shops were good for new releases, not usually much else.
You should also know that I make it an unofficial habit to befriend at least one person in the shops that I like. Not in a needy way, not in a go-for-drinks sort of way, and definitely not in a creepy stalker way. Just a friendly thing, get to know them, and over time they learn my tastes too. It’s amazing how often they’d set aside stuff they thought I’d like (which I’d usually buy). And I’ve learned a ton from them, too. I’ve lived lots of places so far in my life, and have maintained this practice. Record store guys can be cool. Like Mike. Always super-helpful, to a fault sometimes. VERY knowledgeable. And his enthusiasm was absolutely infectious. Also, Mike’s a Sloan fan. And in my experience, this is generally the mark of a bright, caring and solid person. Hooray for Sloan!
Specific memories of the shop? Man, that was 16 years ago. But let’s see if I can cough up a few dusty recollections…
– Mike sold me my first Jon Spencer Blues Explosion CD (Now I Got Worry). He wasn’t convinced I’d like it, but he let me play it on the headphones, and I took it home. I am a lifelong fan of those guys now. If I don’t have everything they did, I have most of it. And it’s all awesome.
– I sold off all my Zeppelin albums one time. I just never played them, was probably listening to punk at the time and found them bloated, and I also probably needed the money. Mike was incredulous, tried quite hard to dissuade me. He eventually took them but still told me I was nuts. I probably was.
– One I definitely regret: I sold my Gits albums to Mike. I was in a different phase (probably jazz), and figured they were easy to replace. Ha! Have you any idea how many years I looked before getting most of those back again, when I realized my blunder? Remember, the internets were not then what they are now. And hey, I still need an old original CD copy of Frenching The Bully, too, so if anyone reading this has a good source, please leave a comment, thanks!
Statham selling his stuff
– I bought the Jewel record (the one with Hands on it) off Mike one time, when it was a new release. I think I just had that song in my head. Mike was sure I’d lost my mind. He told me he wouldn’t take it back in trade from me until at least one week had passed. Trust me, one week and one day, I took it back. He was right.
– I remember picking up the Black Crowes Sho’ Nuff box set for Mike, as I was going to Toronto anyway (and getting one for myself). No worries there, mate.
– I even applied to work at Mike’s store one time, too. They had this test you had to do, to try to see how much you knew about music. I guess they were weeding out the wannabes. Hell, I listen to music and pay attention to it constantly, and half of the stuff they had on there, I had no idea. So I got playful. I developed a “File Under” system. Like, Carole King was File Under: Stuff Your Mom Likes. And for ones I didn’t know, I made something up based on the band name or album title. I really was just taking the piss. Apparently, the manager wanted to interview me based on my results, but I’d just gotten another job anyway. To this day, I wonder how my life would have been different if I’d gotten that job.
I’m sure there are other memories that will come to me, now that I’m thinking about it. Maybe enough for a second instalment, if Mike would have me back as a guest. You know, to this day I still own many of the CDs I bought off Mike. I’ve lugged these things halfway across the country and back. It’s a sign of respect, man. Hold on to the good ones – both the albums and the good guys that sold ’em to you. I always do.