(a letter to the Guardian, in response to a piece about fondly remembered record shops)
I am growing tired of your constant hagiography of record shops (Got any Sam Fox?, G2, 16 April). I have been buying records for 30 years and since the day I foolishly asked for a copy of Love Song by The Damned “with Dracula on the cover” (it was lead singer Dave Vanian), I have been sneered at, patronised, ignored and looked down on – not any easy feat when you are 6ft 3in tall. In contrast to the mystical palaces depicted by your writers, I have found record shops to be untidy and dysfunctional, and the patrons to be accordingly surly, arrogant and disingenuous. Opening hours are obscure and changeable. Prices are vague and often improvised (always upwards – and there are always one or two choice records tantalisingly on view behind the counter, but which are heartbreakingly “not for sale”). Boxes are left unsorted and the racks of vinyl packed so tightly and inaccessibly that I have been left with the gnarled hands of a farm labourer and permanent bad back. I have now found a record shop that is always open, reasonably priced, well ordered and infinitely varied. It’s called the internet. Mark Goodall, Whitby, North Yorkshire
he's got a point, hasn't he?
still i do love them, and almost for the exact same reasons Goodall finds them annoying -- the disorder, and thus the possibility of serendipity, and the strange, twisted people who often work there...
as explored further in this piece i wrote a few years ago
the other thing is that i can remember not just specific stores, but specific acts of finding and purchasing records... whereas i can't remember any moment of discovery or acquisition done on the internet... there is something amnesiac about most of the actions that take place online... something about analogue-world occurrences that imprints better in the memory