A documentary about the legendary NYC record store plays Saturday, February 8, as part of NW Film Center’s 37th Annual Reel Music Festival
I bought my first record at Kmart in Moscow, Idaho — a 45 of the Doobie Brothers “What a Fool Believes.” My record-buying habits were indiscriminate in those early days, as I later added well-used public library copies of Glen Campbell and Van Halen to my collection. Maturing into middle school, I dabbled in the mail-order world of Columbia House record club, never getting much farther than buying my first six cassettes (Queen, Bryan Adams…) for a penny (plus shipping and handling). But, what really hooked me on buying music were my early trips to Budget Tapes and Records in downtown Pullman, Washington, where I often went to peruse the records, whether or not I really had any money to buy anything. Looking back, it probably wasn’t that great of a store, but at the time it was an important locus, the people behind the counter larger than life. The main record store guy, Rick, seemed so much older and wiser — he even played in bands! Tolerating a kid like me in the store, asking him questions about the latest Tom Petty or Quiet Riot release; he helped lead my way into the world of record buying.
As I moved through my adolescence, my tastes departing further from top 40 radio, a good record store became an important touchpoint, one way to tap into a world beyond the confines of small town Eastern Washington. In those days, the only way to really learn about new music — especially music on the fringes of the mainstream — was to have a guide in the form of a record store employee, a friend’s older brother, or perhaps a copy of The Rocket from a trip to Seattle. Finding new music often depended on scouring the liner notes of records and looking for familiar names. Previewing a new record often meant borrowing someone else’s copy — I remember the excited but uneasy sense I had when first playing the 1981 Chunks compilation (with Black Flag, Minutemen, and the dangerous sounding The Nig-Heist) and the 1980 Cracks in the Sidewalk compilation, both of which I’d bought on a whim at Budget Tapes — not sure how much I liked them or even really knew how to listen to them, but convinced they were a portal into a different world, in which the rules seemed different. Moving to Seattle, I eagerly awaited new Sub Pop releases at Cellophane Square, then relied on the collision of different genres at Wall of Sound to expand my palate. I never much cared for the bigger stores, like Tower or HMV, preferring the personal and more curated feeling of independent stores.
Other Music was a great record store in New York City. On Saturday, NW Film Center will be screening a documentary about the legendary store as part of the 37th Annual Reel Music Festival.Continue reading →