I went into a music store yesterday.
An honest-to-God, brick-and-mortar music store.
It’s a lot like going into a museum, except the whole thing’s the gift shop. In fact, this particular music store even sold records.
For my younger readers: a record “is an analog sound storage medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed modulated spiral groove usually starting near the periphery and ending near the center of the disc.” (Thanks, Wikipedia!)
Records were played on a record player; a needle would be positioned over the groove in the disc and would transmit vibration from that groove back through a pre-amp, into an amplifier and through the speakers. I have one of these ancient machines, and I even listen to records on it. My collection is not huge—mostly jazz and classical—but the sound is still better than anything you’d get on an mp3; and arguably better than on a CD (the whole “digital vs. analog” argument is fodder for another column).
I haven’t been into a music store in ages. But after breakfast with a small group of friends next door, we decided to pop in. Twist And Shout (2508 E. Colfax Ave., Denver) is more than just a record store, though. It’s a musical hub. It’s an indie enclave. It’s a local music champion. It’s all of the things a music store should be—a reason to leave the house and go perusing through bins of plastic-cased CDs until you find the one your buddy Zeke was telling you about, then you bring it over to the listening station where a 20-something with piercings in her face and a T-shirt with a logo you’ve never seen before sniffs her approval as she pulls out the CD and pops it into a player so you can listen to it before you bring it up to the counter where another 20-something with a Zeppelin shirt sniffs his disapproval before ringing it up.
Twist and Shout seems leveraged well enough across enough different products (clothing, plastic anime toys, movies, dolls of the characters from The Big Lebowski; you can even buy digital downloads at their website, twistandshout.com) that they may actually survive the lingering death of the music store that’s been playing out for the last decade. They certainly have carved out a niche for themselves over the years with their strong support for local music and surprisingly well-educated staff.
As we begin the march into the holiday season, when so many of us are looking forward to shopping with our mouse and credit cards; gleefully avoiding the crush of the throngs of unwashed masses as they descend upon the outlet malls and department stores like winter locusts, it’s important for us to stop for a moment. Turn off the computer, put on a coat, and head to a store like Twist and Shout…or Albums on the Hill (1128 13th St.., Boulder); or Bart’s CD Cellar (1015 Pearl St.., Boulder); or Angelo’s CDs (3919 East 120th Ave., Thornton). Ask a clerk what (s)he recommends that no one’s ever heard of before. Smell the vinyl in the used records section. Marvel at the poster on the wall from the Ministry show you totally went to in 1994.
Remember what it was like when buying an album was the most exciting thing you did all weekend.