Do We Need Record Stores?
Some of my fondest memories are mulling albums and vinyl singles at various indie record stores in the Portland area back in the 70's. There were a bunch of stores back then with clerks that ranged from sullen to knowledgeable to enthusiastic to bored. You never knew what you'd be getting on any specific day! I remember a punky-new wave fellow named "Thor" at some short-lived hole in the wall selling/hyping the latest Stiff Records singles, everything from E. Costello to Dave Edmunds to Rachel Sweet. There was a short-lived super store called "Crystal Ship" that impressed with sheer abundance... two giant floors of records, records, records. To this day I stop by Music Millennium whenever I'm in Portland; they're still one of the best record stores around. And I get instant college flashbacks when the (pleasant!) patchouli/incense odor hits...
I also spend WAY too much $$$ at the Los Angeles Amoeba store, because for all the convenience of Amazon, I still like the tactile "flipping through CDs" search method. And I'm constantly finding/trying something new. Recent example: 2003's "The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place" by Explosions In The Sky. These guys evidently scored the film "Friday Night Lights" and yet someone never landed on my admittedly narrow radar. I'm not even sure what you would call this (blissful/angry instrumental trance music with a surprising beat?) but I sure like it, and I would never in a million years have found it if an Amoeba employee hadn't given it a listen and stuck a descriptive label extolling the CDs virtues on the shelf.
There's another "Record Store Day" this Friday... if I can fight through the crowds I might try to wrestle my way inside and support my local record store.