Best Letter of the Week
I was thrilled to see so many letters in response to our Coolest Record Stores piece back in July. If the passion of letter writers are any indication of the health of indie record stores, they'll be OK for a little while longer. We published several in our September issue that's at the printer right now, but we just got this one in, praising my favorite record store here in Decatur:
Thank you for the terrific article on some of the nation's best record stores in your July issue.
I had already started putting together a mental list of why Decatur CD should have made it into the article when I read Josh Jackson's editorial in the front of the issue.
As a music fan who never misses a chance to go into a "brick and mortar" record store, I was blown away a few years ago when I made my first trip down to see Warren and his crew in Decatur. I believe the quote to my wife on the phone that day was a very short one liner: "It's a gold mine!"
Warren has built his business on truly personal service and the kind of selection you just don't find at the major retailers. If you can't find it, he can. If it's not there in the store, it will be the next day. If you are in need of some good recommendations, just ask him, you won't be disappointed. After a few years of visits it would be hard for me to count the number of discs in my collection that are there simply because they were playing it in the store when I walked in the door (although Paste's sampler discs are working hard to catch up). Eliot, Austin, and the Security Chicken are always quick with a smile and eager to help you find what you want, however obscure. All the knowledge of the "High Fidelity staff" without the attitude. Each trip is a new experience in musical joy.
As Mr. Jackson pointed out, the Internet has made finding those obscure songs from a movie or TV show significantly easier. Live downloads, free (legal) mp3s, streaming tunes of all kinds (Wolfgang's Vault - are you kidding me?) make the Internet one of the best things to happen to popular music, possibly ever. I can hardly imagine not having my online resources today.
Unfortunately, all that comes at the expense of stores like Decatur CD. Thus, it gave me a warm feeling to read your article and see that there are still a few great places to spend a Saturday afternoon truly "shopping" for music around the country.
A few weeks ago I spent a couple hours driving around Rapid City, South Dakota, in a vain search for a neat little store that I visited four or five times during a stay in that city for business back in the early '90s. I couldn't remember the name but I know the odds are that it closed for the obvious reasons. I won't give up my Internet music habits anytime soon but I'll be buying my "records" at Decatur CD until they won't let me in the door. We can't let great places like that go the way of the Great White Buffalo. It just wouldn't be right. As the owner of my all time favorite home town store (Dusty's Records, Kearney, Nebraska) said to me on my last visit before he closed the doors: "Don't feel bad man, you put my kids through college." I really hope music fans continue to shop "local" or we'll be missing a truly unique and rewarding part of our popular culture.
Thanks again for the great article and the best music magazine I've picked up in years.