Looking back at my teenage years, I find it hard to believe that I was part of the last generation who grew up in the record store. In high school, I remember going to lunch in town every day and at least once a week, adding a record store to the list of places we would go. The town I went to school in actually had two record stores, a Sam Goody and the Music Merchant, which actually moved in town if my memory serves from the last time I was there about eight years ago. Sometimes, when I look at my CD collection, I think not only about CD, but when, where and with whom I purchased it.
For example, my favorite purchase from high school is my copy of More Songs About Anger, Fear, Sex and Death, which is one of the best samplers I ever purchased. My best friend had purchased Punk-O-Rama a few months beforehand, which in the common practice of the day, was meticulously taped in a slightly edited format and given to me. In fact, when I bought the CD for the first time I was shocked when I heard Don't Call Me White by NOFX for the first time, because it was not on the tape. A tape, which served me well for twelve years, until it was lost in the great Nor'easter of 2007, as my second car had a tape deck, well, until the creek behind my apartment rose and destroyed my car and everything inside.
With both Rob and I aware of how much we enjoyed Punk-O-Rama, it was only a matter of time until one of us sprung for More Songs. On some level, I want to say it didn't matter who bought it, since we shared music as a group, but there was something special about owning the CD. I think it boiled down to being able to listen to the CD on the bus ride to and from school and for me, being able to put the CD into my music rotation, which was far more likely to be listened to than a cassette.
So, one day after eating lunch, which consisted of either a bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel, pizza or a burger which was not a pizza burger, we went to the Music Merchant, where I went straight to the end of the row and grabbed the CD. The store was a classic type of music store, with glass cabinets along the walls filled with CDs and some cassettes, which by the mid-1990s were on their way out. But there were walls of new CDs organized by name and you could flip through the used CDs, which sat in tall, wooden bins in the center of the store. I can tell you that I spent hours at the store, either with my friends or by myself on occasion.
I have a hard time reconciling that today, this behavior would be abhorrent and unusual. Nowadays, it is hard enough to find a record store, let alone one you want to browse in and find new music. A few good record stores still exist, but as time marches on, I find them far less frequently and realize that it is just another piece of my youth gone for forever.