In the days before the Internet just about the only way you were ever going to hear anything other than Hall and Oates, Journey, Van Halen, or whatever other dreck the radio played was by finding a tiny independent record store and walking through its doors. There, in the usually cramped confines, you’d make your way through aisles of vinyl while the clerks blasted something by the Misfits or X or Hüsker Dü or some other band you’d probably never have heard of if you hadn’t just walked into the store at that very moment. You’d find a spot in front of a bin and start flipping through LP’s, listening to the sound the shrink wrap made as you looked at each album cover, reading the title, studying the band’s name, and imagining what was held inside.
In front of you was an undiscovered world of music, just waiting for you to take it home. Your mind swam with the seemingly endless choices at your fingertips: Black Flag, Big Black, the Decendents, the Dead Kennedys, Dinosaur jr., the Feelies, the Gun Club, the Jam, the Minutemen, the Meat Puppets, Mission of Burma, Minor Threat, Naked Raygun, the Replacements, R.E.M., Sonic Youth, Saccharine Trust. Your head ached with the weight of the decision before you. In fact, you could almost feel the ten dollars in your pocket begging you to pick the right record — to buy that perfect album that you knew rested somewhere in one of those bins, the one that when you brought it home and slapped it on your turntable would utterly and irreversibly change your life. You knew that once you’d heard the music it held, you could never look at the world in the same way again.
If it weren’t for places like Phoenix Records in Waterbury, CT (still around, minus the Professor) or Rhyme’s in New Haven (sadly, no longer with us) I wouldn’t have known about even half the music I love, and my life wouldn’t be anywhere near as rich as it is. So today on Record Store Day, go and show a little love to your own local independent record store and buy that CD or LP you know is waiting for you — the one that’s going to change your life — and thank the clerks for helping to keep good music alive. Because if it wasn’t for them, a lot of those bands you love might still exist, but you’d have probably never heard of them.