A Visit To The Record Store

IN MY LAST POST I wrote a bit about a video project called “Recollect” where famous jazz musicians go to a record store, flip through the records there and tell rich stories of life and music.

The thought occurred, “If I could choose some folks to go to the record store with, who would I choose and why?” Quickly, names bubbled to the surface of my grey matter.

John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Eric Clapton, Diana Krall…

record shop in Atlanta with my great friend Gene

record shop in Atlanta with my great friend Gene

Actually those were not the first names that came to me. The people I thought of first are people I know personally. I know them to be mindful connoisseurs of music, curators of a wide library of music. These people have stretched my musical tastes and understanding, through them I experience music through fresh eyes and ears.

These are people like my two sons Corey and Kyle. Then there are people who helped shape my own musical library years ago, like Jim Norris, Randy Miller and Roger Roden. Occasionally you need to “go to the record store” with younger people, those who can introduce you to new artists and music, people like Molly Hennesy and Mary Corley. Of course all of us have friends who just seem to know and appreciate music: deeply and with an open mind. For me, these are people like Gene Chapman, Zack Merrill, Amy Merrill, Steven McConnell, Bryan Horvath, Kevin Gosa and so many more.

As I type these names I’m noticing other common traits: they all are musicians, they are all thoughtful people who place high value on the creative process. I would gladly spend a day in the record shop with any of them. If fact, I hope to talk with many of them to find out what they would dig for if we could go shopping together.

There are two others that came to mind right away: Dan Haynes and Rob Carmack. I’ve known both of these guys for a long time now. We see each other from time to time, and if we are able to visit for more than five minutes, the conversation will often turn to music. Each of them has a broad music library and each of them can tell a great story.

Recently we were together and I asked them: “If we were at a record shop right now, what album would you choose to take home and why?”

Right away Rob said: “Prince — Sign O The Times”. He’s been searching the record bins for that album but has yet to find it. Apparently, demand is high since Prince’s untimely death. The conversation turned to the albums they each valued most. For Rob, Rolling Stones — Exile On Main Street, Led Zepplelin II, and anything by Bruce Springsteen. Rob is a fan of the man and his music. In fact Rob hosts a podcast called: “Bruce Springsteen Sings The Alphabet”.

While I like the original Led Zeppelin and Rob prefers II, we both agree on some of the newer artists worth adding to your library like: Lakestreet Dive and The Decemberists.

My good friend Dan knows music: from the American rock songbook to the nuts and bolts of music. He is a highly respected sound engineer and runs sound for a variety of bands and artists. Dan taught me the value of a set of really good headphones. It is the only way to enjoy the nuance of what happened in the studio when the record was made.

By the way, my preference for fine headphones: Grado. They are made in America and are amazing. You can get a set of entry level Grados for under $100. Trust me they are worth every penny. I wrote a post about them a few years back.

I remember early one Saturday morning, years ago, someone knocked on our front door with a sense of urgency. It was Dan. In his hands were his headphones and a new album by The Police. As if the house was on fire he said, “You’ve got to listen to the snare drum on this song!!” It was “Roxanne”. It was impressive.

I am a fan of Steely Dan and Dave Matthews because of Dan’s enthusiastic endorsements.

As we visited, I was surprised by this: apparently they both have an admiration for Sir Elton John because of my insistance that he is one of the great songwriters of our time. We all agreed that Elton’s "Tumbleweed Connection" holds a special place in our musical libraries. The song “Madman Across the Water” is classic Elton John.

Rob noted one other newer band worth listening to. They are a favorite of mine and my son Corey’s. It’s a band called “Dawes”. I leave you now with the apropos lyrics of one of their songs. But don’t just read the lyrics, buy the song and enjoy.

By Dawes

Late night drives and hot french fries and friends around the country
From Charlottesville to good old Santa Fe
When I think of you, you still got on that hat that says let's party
I hope that thing is never thrown away

I hope that life without a chaperon is what you thought it'd be
I hope your brother's El Camino runs forever
I hope the world sees the same person that you've always been to me
And may all your favorite bands stay together

Now I'm just waking up and I'm not thinking clearly so don't quote me
With one eye open I'm writing you this song
Ain't it funny how some people pop into your head so easily
I haven't seen you in there for so long

I hope that life without a chaperon is what you thought it'd be
I hope your brother's El Camino runs forever
I hope the world sees the same person that you always were to me
And may all your favorite bands stay together