Ongoing History of New Music

The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 920: The history of the record store

Before we begin, I am very aware that there are many people who have never, ever set foot in a record store. They came of age musically after the internet changed everything about how we hear about, acquire, and consume music.

But remember this: For over one hundred and thirty years, the only way you could hear music on-demand was to own it. You had to purchase a piece of plastic for X dollars and for that price, you could listen to that music an infinite number of times for no additional charge. Not only did you make an emotional music in that music, but a financial one as well. And dammit, you were going to make sure you listen to that piece of plastic until you wrung out every possible bit of enjoyment from it. Otherwise, you’d have to admit to yourself that you wasted your money.

There was another aspect to this emotional investment. In order to acquire this music, you had to leave your home, find your way to a record store, and search through all the shelves hoping to find what you were looking for. If you were shopping for something specific and it wasn’t in stock, you had to special order it, which is a whole new level of emotional investment.

And while you are at the record store, you interacted with recordings you didn’t know anything about. Just flipping through the roacs lookin at albums was an education in itself. Maybe you’d go with a couple of friends, fan out across the store and then compare finds.

Maybe you’d meet a stranger and strike up a conversation. And if you were a regular, it’s possible that the person behind the counter became a trusted source of recommendations. Or maybe you’d go see an artist play live or conduct an autograph session.

Record stores are still with us, but there are fewer and fewer of them–certainly way less than the glory days of music shopping that extended from the 60s through to the late 90s. A lot of legendary stores and chains have disappeared. But while those glory days lasted, it was pretty amazing.

This is the history of the record store.

Songs heard on this show:

  • Buck-O-Nine, Daydreamer
  • Morrissey, Suedehead
  • Billy Ward and His Dominoes, Sixty Minute Man
  • Radio Stars, Buy Chiswick Records
  • Butch Walker, Record Store
  • Foo Fighters, Times Like These
  • Depeche Mode, Personal Jesus
  • U2, I Will Follow

Eric Wilhite’s playlist looks like this:

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

If you ever miss a show, you can always get the podcast edition available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38516 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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