I have been woefully lax in in reporting a major piece of cultural news: the closing of Tower Records, and the closing of a few major Virgin Megastores. 

The closing of Tower Records is a particularly sad item, as it marks the end of a era for not only music retailers but for music lovers, independent musicians and music geeks like myself.  There’s been a fair amount of talk about it already, and two of the best articles are this one from Reuters which focuses on the effects on independent musicians and this one written by Mike Dreese, founder of Newbury Comics, now truly my favorite music store.

I suppose this makes me a bit of an old fuddy duddy, but dammit, I like going to a record store.  Yes, iTunes and their online brethren are handy and inexpensive, but I still like the experience of flipping through the CD’s, creating a stack that you think you may want and then culling it down (or not…).  Then getting home, opening each up and exploring the album.  Not just jamming it onto a MP3 player, and waiting for it to come on in the shuffle mix, but really listening to it, reading the liner notes, reading the lyrics and the thank you’s from the artist, seeing who wrote what songs and who’s playing what on which tracks.

Not that I have anything against portable MP3 players – I think it is great that it has made a wider range of music available at more times than ever before.  But the more I think about it, the more I think people aren’t really appreciating the music, but just using it as background noise or the soundtrack buried in the back of their lives.

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