I’ll write a little bit tonight, but just as a way to give you 2 other reading assignments.
This week, by coincidence, I’ve been able to enjoy two newspaper articles about two different record shops – great, old-old-old record shops. The kind that survive because the proprietors care, the music matters, and the patrons are faithful. We all need that kind of place, and Seattle is lucky to have a pretty good clutch of quality shops to frequent (though I must admit, I don’t hang out at any of them).
Bleeker Bob, died last week, Robert Plotnik of Bleecker Bob’s Records. RIP, old friend who I never knew, your legacy is a gift to me and to all music lovers.
I remember visiting Bleeker Bob’s, but I can’t remember much about it or what I bought or where it was. I notice that, as I age, I appear to be much more aware of my surroundings and have better memories of places. I was visiting friends in New York in December 1998. I know we went to several record shops, but Bleeker Bob’s was the mecca-highlight for the day.
When we got back to their Brooklyn apartment, I was playing John Cale – somewhere I’d purchased Cale’s 2-CD set, “Seducing Down the Door”. After about an hour, Pat, said, “wait, I just have to try something” and he put on a Madonna song (?). Yikes! A breath of fresh air! I’d never noticed how intense Cale can be, but phew; he can be amazing.
A couple of days ago, Rough Trade Records posted an article on FB about themselves. (There’s nothing shameful about quality self-promotion!)
The shop had become a target due to its success. After opening in 1976, Rough Trade was soon more than a retail outlet. It became a cultural hub, a place where people socialised, read fanzines, listened to chest-pounding dub reggae or, increasingly throughout 1978, tried to sell the records they had made.
I’ve never actually had this in my life – a shop where people socialized – but it sounds essential, doesn’t it?
I’ve written previously about how I came to find the Rough Trade shop in West London. I now strive to go there anytime I’m in England, which is not as often as it once was.
When I go to an independent record shop, I try to ask the shop keeper, “what’s new that you’re listening to?” I always buy what they recommend. Sometimes I get a good answer; sometimes the shop keeper is an idiot.
Here’s an example from Rough Trade, recommended in 2004
And just a few weeks ago, a shop keeper in Seattle gave me this experience (well, “gave”, I paid for it):
Today marks 2 years that I’ve been writing my blog, trying to bring great music to people, and hoping that they’ll bring great music to me. I’ve discovered that I learn much by writing, and I hope to continue to learn. And I hope to continue to find new great stuff and to find new people to correspond with.