Saturday, October 07, 2006

Store's Closing: The Death of an Old Friend

Where it all began

Kind of like one of those ol' sad, realize-you've-grown up moments. Tower Records is no more. The signs are posted up and down Broadway this afternoon. 30% off liquidation "Going Out of Business" sale. It's sad to see it's finally come to this. The dimension of that corner down the street on 16th and Broadway will change for ever. No Tower Records, no Tower Books, no Tower Video... and maybe if some developer wins the fight, no more Tower Theater (Art Deco home now to all the indie flicks) which means no more Tower Cafe and perhaps the only thing left standing across the street will be Tower Liquors and the H&C Burger Stand.

I got into rock music pretty seriously at around 17 years old. The first tape I think I can remember buying was EMF's first album. My collection grew from there. I got into Pink Floyd. Some REM. The whole Nirvana thing. U2... All that old new wave stuff from Flock of Seagulls through Depeche Mode and even into the Cure. By the time I entered college in 1992, I had a pretty damn good collection: All bought with my hard earned cash at Tower Records. I was always there on Tuesdays for the new music. Just to browse or to buy, it didn't matter those four years in college. There was always enough money for that 11.99 new cd.

Then there were the midnight releases at 12:AM early Tuesday. Standing in line to be the first one. When the Beatles released their first anthology series in 1995, I was there in Stockton. The first one in line at midnight. Got my photo on the front page of the Stockton Record the next day. Me, standing there in line being the first. Other midnight releases: Green Day's Insomniac, U2's Pop, REM's New Adventures in Hi-Fi (good shit by the way), Cake's 2nd album was released the same time as REM's Hi Fi so I got that too. In fact, I got those two at the Sunset Store in Hollywood. The property is being sold for $12 million!!! I think I got Weezer's second album, Pinkerton (best album of the 1990's) Good times... being first was it. I had to be the one telling my friends to get the new record.

I guess though, I indirectly helped kill the Tower brand. Back in 2000, Napster was it. I downloaded all I could. I mostly searched for covers and for that one song from some random band that you didn't want the rest of. I had thousands. Then the hard drive crashed. Probably out of my own guilt though. In 2000, I was in prog rock band. I was the lead guitarist in a three piece, called Perception. Maybe you heard of us? (No you didn't!!) I downloaded songs we wanted to cover or for ideas in our songwriting sessions. The other two members had their own tastes. Became a Dave Matthews fan out of it. The band was good for what it was. I'll lose my hearing 5 years sooner because of it. But losing those thousands of songs I illegally downloaded was a good thing. Illegal downloading is stealing, period. Just because it is there, doesn't mean you can take it. Hence why Tower is no longer around.

I grew up though. Sure I'd pop in every season for the new record. Like the new Pearl Jam or U2 album that showed up every couple of years. I wasn't seeking out new cutting edge bands like I did before I got married. There were no Samiam's or Jawbreaker's on the horizon that I had to seek out. No new Camper Van Beethovens or Crackers (virtually the same to get others into. If I saw a new album I'd get it but it wasn't the same. I wasn't buying a 100 or so cd's year anymore. Maybe 25 tops, if that.

Now it's all about iTunes. For one, it was easier now to put the 1000 or so cd's I have onto one little iPod and buy stuff I needed to replenish, like when I went on the Metallica binge last week. Bought the new Killers this week. Jury still out.

I guess Tower is like an old friend that you sort of lost touch with. You don't call or see them very often for years. And then you read their obituary in the paper. And you are stunned into just remembering...

(Van Halen's Eruption cues up on iPod)

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