Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Sam The Record Man
"I said it, I did it!" And now Sam is closing shop. When I worked downtown I made it a weekly habit to visit Sam's to see what was new in music. Sam's was one of those very old, labrynthine buildings that you could spend days exploring. I don't think they ever sent anything back to the distributors, because I picked up some mighty obscure discs that had been out of print for years.
These days I download via eMusic and (very rarely) that would-be monopolizer of all things digital. In some ways the download is a boon for music lovers: I'm listening to all sorts of stuff I would never have bothered with if it had meant buying something wrapped in plastic. Recent download treats include wax.on wax.off, Camera Obscura and Mavis Staples. Just to drive the point home, I've even given Arcade Fire my attention, a band whose music is not at all to my taste. It's good exposure for the artists, and a worthwhile experience for me.
But do I ever miss the package! Heck, I miss the LP! Back in the day I used to pore over every little detail on an album cover, sometimes with a magnifying glass, hoping to further decode the cypher of significance within. Those were the glorious days of rumoured backmasking and other mischief. Every album was like a ticking bomb that you unpacked and explored at your own peril. The world — your world, our world — could change!
Well, the world has changed and now it's just the music and nothing else, which I suppose should be more than enough. But some days it seems like little more than a bunch of ones and zeros. And I miss the event of stepping into a creaky old building that required a person to walk up a set of stairs, then down a few steps, then take a left and another left before you came into a small room that stocked that über Cool Jazz masterpiece, Poitier Meets Plato.
It's another era, and I'm not going to stand in its way. But you'd better believe we're already missing the fun and discovery of the era that's rapidly fading.