Just got finished watching another neat little doc on Pitchfork, I Need That Record! (up for a week so hurry up if you want to check it out).  The film details the demise of the local record store, focusing on a few specific stores.  There’s nothing groundbreaking here in terms of content, as the filmmaker discusses the how the record industry, the rise of the “big box” stores, the internet and the mp3 have all led to hard times for local music stores.  The more interesting part is how the loss of these local record shops is indicative of a larger loss of community in United States cities.  These record stores serve as gathering places for people, and when they close, along with other locally-owned stores, there is one less place for people to gather.

I’ve always enjoyed going to record stores, and the loss of so many these local stores does make me sad.  I, like many of us, do most of my music shopping online, or at a big box store.  Neither of those captures the experience of going into a record store.  There’s not other stuff to distract you, it’s all music.  And the tangible feeling of flipping through vinyl or CDs can’t be recreated online, even with cover art online.  And then there’s personal experiences of discussing a record with either patrons or employees.  Your average Best Buy employee isn’t getting paid to chat with you about the new St. Vincent record, and probably won’t even know who the hell St. Vincent is.  One of my favorite activities in college was going to the local record store, thumbing through used CDs trying to find a disc someone else had abandoned that I could scoop up on the cheap.  These stores are also a great source for finding out about local shows, something Itunes or Walmart are not going to give you.

As Jello Biafra says during the movie, he’d like to support a local record store or book store, but you can find anything you’re looking for on Amazon or eBay and it’s cheaper than what you can get in these brick-and-mortar stores.  And because of that, me like him, finds myself frequently these local places less often.  So, the film does a good job of reminding us all that we should get off the couch and laptops once in awhile and get out there and find those local stores.  They need our help more than ever.


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