Every Tuesday, my mom made me come along to the big city when she took my sister for organ lessons. But bless her heart, she agreed to drop me off at a nearby shopping mall so I could wander through Sam the Record Man for an hour or so.
In retrospect, those Tuesdays were hugely important to me. I learned so much, listening to the music on the store stereo; watching what other people were buying; flipping through the stacks of LPs and 45s; eavesdropping on the clerks and customers talking about music; hearing customers argue with each other about what was good and what wasn’t.
It was an amazing education. I was exposed to so much new music and so many opinions about it. I’ve spent countless hours — not to mention a significant amount of money — in record stores in cities and towns all over the planet. And even though I now buy a lot of music online, I still frequent record stores as much as possible because I still love the communal and cultural experience of hanging out with other music nerds.
Sadly, though, record shops of all sizes are disappearing, victims of new digital realities. That’s why tomorrow — the fifth annual Record Store Day — is so important. This year’s official ambassador, Iggy Pop, is encouraging everyone to discover and re-discover the joys and benefits of visiting a record store.
Record Store Day has grown into an international event with hundreds of participating stores around the globe, from Athens to Zurich. At last count, 186 Canadian stores are on board, including the two remaining Sam the Record Man stores in Belleville and Sarnia, Ontario.
As an enticement to visit, artists from Paul McCartney and the Grateful Dead to the Foo Fighters and Eddie Vedder have offered up special limited-edition releases prepared just for tomorrow. There are hundreds of Record Store Day exclusives, ranging from unreleased demos to rare mono editions to old-school picture discs. Each is destined to become instant collectors’ items.
For a complete list, visit recordstoreday.com.