Sunday, March 28, 2010

If the world was a record store...

...What a wonderful world it would it would be. Today being a Sunday, and me with little to do, I decided to check out the newest record store in Silver Spring, Joe's Record Paradise. And indeed it is. I've heard the space was a pool hall at one point, so that gives you a sense of how big it is. Wall to wall records, CDs, an expensive rare section, posters, and on and on. It was well worth checking out, and I'll get to what I bought, exactly, and I spin this yarn that, once again, has convinced me of this fact: If the world was a record store, it would be great.

One of the records I (thought) I bought was The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, a sort of white whale for me, since I've never once come across a used copy in a store. It was $10.50, in good shape, and I was sold. Picked up a few others, and I was off, biking back home. Immediately, I put on Freewheelin' and what do I hear? 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' the first track off Dylan's 'Bringing it all Back Home' album. A great album, for sure. But I already have it. Turns out, I had bought one Dylan sleeve and another Dylan album. So I pack up and bike back to Joe's.

No trouble there -- I had thought they might think I was trying to scam them. They ask if I want the cash back or to look around for something else. I choose latter, and they check for another copy of Freewheelin'. No dice. So I head for a Country Joe and the Fish album I had previously passed up. $7.50? You got it. Then I find 'Remain in Light' from the Talking Heads with no price. Upon inquiry? $7. Well, we had a problem. I had $10.50 in store credit, but $14.50 in albums, plus tax. They say it could be settled for three bucks. I have no cash. We've got a problem.

The solution? One of the guys working there says, as the incense smoke swirls in the dusty air: "You know what man, for your trouble, let's just call it an even trade. Besides, [Remain in Light] is a great album, and if you don't already have it, you need it. Just come see us again sometime." Absolutely. So, for my trouble, I got a free $5 from the store, two albums instead of one, and a reason to visit again.

There aren't a lot of stores in which that would've happened. And I don't just think it's because it was a difference in $5 or so. It's as if they knew it probably kinda sucked to think you were getting an album, and then not. And to have to come back. And the "... and if you don't already have it, you need it..." line was great. It's almost as if they're desire to set me up with a classic album trumped their own business interests. It's about the experience, the record store culture, the shared quest for any and all records you'd ever want. It's as if we're all in this record collection adventure together; like I just got a collective, understanding nod from Joe's Record Paradise.

Paradise indeed. And just one more reason why this adventure is more than just a way to listen to music... it's an experience. Cultural. Musical. If only the whole world was a record store. And it(kind of) softened the blow of, once again, not having Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Something to keep looking for, I suppose.

Today's buys:
Country Joe and the Fish -- Electric Music For The Mind And Body
Cream -- Disraeli Gears
Bob Dylan -- Blood on the Tracks
Jimi Hendrix -- Band of Gypsys
Jimi Hendrix -- Axis: Bold As Love
Talking Heads -- Remain in Light

Photo, of course, from High Fidelity.


  1. I was going to say... they better have just called it even. My experiece with local shops has been very good in that respect, I know the ones here realize they are working in a dying industry. People don't value music like they used to... to easy to just download. So they will do anything to help you out because they know you will come back. That being said, I think a important (maybe the most important) part of a local record shop is the sense of community it brings. Sometimes I go in and don't buy anything, I just have a chat with the owners or employees that I consider friends at this point since I'm in their store more days of the week than not. Its a place to gather with like minded people to talk about things you have in common, especially music. Even though they lost 5 bucks on you one day, they know you will come back and spend more than that during the time you live in D.C., and I'm sure you will be happy to do so, because they treated you as a fellow music lover, and not as just a transaction.

  2. Welcome To Washington-you might want to check out my blog about local music and such- DC ROCKS.