Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Record Time

Yes, I admit it. I am a gentleman of artistic tastes of a certain age. And, it seems, of a fairly specific demographic.

I have been reflecting on this while spending far too much time today on iTunes, becoming the proud owner (insofar, in this digital age, that one ever actually owns anything) of - and I suspect this won't exactly comes as a surprise - both the new Barbra and the new Madonna. It's only flaunting my age to note that I don't as yet, plan to get the new Whitney, Mariah, or Britney.

How are we ever going to explain, to a wondering future, the thrill of rushing to a record store to get the latest and greatest? I once spent the better part of a day - and a school day, to boot - waiting at Plastic Fantastic outside Philadelphia to bag a brand new Lene Lovich album. Now you just press a few buttons and it all comes rushing down the 'Tubes, in the Deluxe version.

Fun to have, but, in the words of a song that might as well be on Streisand's new collection of standards, The Thrill is Gone.


  1. And with the thrill went the ALBUM COVER ARTWORK!!!

    While I have many memories of getting new record from my childhood, the few that bring the biggest smile come from my late adolesence-

    Having come out at the ripe old age of 17, I was a nightly habituate of The Lost & Found. (Washington, DC's premiere superdisco!) Everytime Donna Summer would release a new record, posters would go up around the club about a month in advance announcing that at the stroke of midnight on said date, our beloved DJ would drop the needle and not to miss out on being the first to hear Miss Donna;s latest revelatory effort. The minute those posters went up, the work began: new outfits were procured, haircuts purchased, groups of friends assembled, decisions about where to have dinner on the special evening; girl, we was plannin'!! (Mind you, all this for a few ounces of black vinyl sandwiched between two pieces of cardboard) Excitement would be built on the night in question as we showed our fabulous selves off to each other over dinner. We would be sufficiently fed and subsequently likkered up. At the 'L&F' the DJ would devote almost two hours to spinning an incredible set whipping us to near frenzy level and then at 11:59:30 the lights would begin to dim, the music begin to fade so that by 11:59:45 we would be in silent darkness where we would be left for the next interminable 15 seconds. During that time we would all turn and face the DJ booth like Mecca and gaze up at the glass, popper bottles at the ready, and wait. There would be a silent timpany roll deep inside each of us and just when we thought we couldn't take it anymore, he'd drop the needle. Our shrieks, screams and whoops were that of Donna's newborn being welcomed into the world and, honey, we'd DANCE!!!

    The next morning, with hangovers that should have been in the Smithsonian under glass, we'd rush to the record store to buy our own copy of the musical heaven that we'd hear nightly for the next year until the next one came out.

    And that, children, was part of what it was like to be gay in the 1970's!

  2. Felix, that was superb. Thank you.

    Muscato, you are so right. The Thrill is Gone.

    I recall the days when you bought concert tickets at record stores. Being a Jersey boy, the wait was often on for Springsteen tickets.

    I recall a particular night in the early 80's. My buddy and I were driving about aimlessly and heard on the radio that Bruce tix would go on sale the next morning for some just announced upcoming concerts. We stopped at the nearest pay phone to call our friends and alert them. We spent the next hour driving around the county picking up friends who were all too eager to join us.

    We sped to the record store a few towns away that would be selling the tickets. There were teens and young people streaming toward the store from all directions. We were lining up after midnight to wait for the store to open the next morning.

    Soon the cops showed up to keep watch on the crowd that now numbered a few hundred. Next came someone from the store who arrived to start distributing numbered wristbands so we could come back the next day and retain our places in line.

    We got the wristbands (high thirties if I recall) and went back to crash on my parents' living room floor (they were conveniently out of town).

    We were up early to hit the banks (back when banks opened at 7 or 8 AM) and drain our savings accounts. Either we didn't have credit cards, or the record store didn't accept them.

    Cash in hand, we headed back to the record store in Elizabeth to join the growing line. We took our places, and each one of the 7 or 8 of us bought 8 tickets (the max) for various concert dates.

    The concerts were great. But it was the late night adventure of alerting friends and scrambling to get the cash and beating the crowds and marching out of that record store with 8 coveted tickets in hand that I most fondly recall.

  3. their thrill IS the button pushing....i suppose. whatever.

  4. but i forgot to ask, is the babs any good?

  5. Same question as Normadesmond.