Known Johnson

November 19, 2006

(Probably) The last hurrah

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 10:17 pm

I went to Tower Records for what was most likely the last time ever today.  I just felt a need, like it would be the last time as holiday shopping took over for personal shopping and time slipped away, not to mention their quickly dwindling selection would soon remove any interest for me.  So off I went, and I was greeted by signs announcing “40-60% off.”  Excellent.

Like the previous two times, however, I found myself hounded by the feeling that, even at 40% off (the discount on CDs) there were bigger savings to be found elsewhere for most things.  So I walked around empty-handed most of the time.  Occasinally I picked up a few things, wandered around with them in my hands, then found my way back to their section as my senses came to me again and reminded me that I just wasn’t dying for whatever it was I had in my hand.  My goal was simple: if it wasn’t a huge bargain, it had to be something I really, really wanted.  I wasn’t going to be one of those people that bought simply because it was on sale.

So I grabbed three of the remastered Stevie Ray Vaughan albums (at less than $8 each after the discount!) and, with blues on the mind, I headed over to the blues section to see if I could uncover any gems.  Blues is a genre my dad has always been into and for whatever reason I’ve never properly explored – instead I went off into jazz – and I always mean to check it out further.  When I got to the section, I  found that I could span the whole thing with both of my outstretched arms.  Pretty sad.  I dug through the little they had, but there wasn’t much other than what you’ve seen a million times before in any decent store’s blues section – a LOT of Susan Tedeschi (as good as she is, I’m looking for a little more vintage than that.)  I settled upon the John Lee Hooker segment and dug in as it actually had a little meat and ran across one title, It Serves You Right To Suffer, priced at an intriguingly worrisome $6.99 before the discount (it would be $4.20 after!)  I thought at first this must be one of those grey-area European compilation/bootlegs, but no – it’s released on MCA records, a legit US release.  I stuck it in with the SRV discs and headed to the counter.

$30 I was heading home, fully knowing I’d probably never set foot in Tower again.  Don’t mistake this for being too sad – Tower did this to themselves with absolutely ridiculous prices.  $18.99 for any single, domestic-release CD is a ripoff.  What I will miss is the selection that Tower had.  They were the only place in town that carried a lot of the titles that I looked for, and when it came to jazz and, yes, blues, few other places could match them (despite today’s poor showing, they usually did have a pretty good selection.)  And on older product, they usually did have pretty competitive prices.  But I can’t be too sad to see them go knowing and happily admitting that 75% of my own purchases are now done online, 90% of those from Amazon because they blow away the competition with prices, availability, and performance.

But there’s something to be said for the satisfaction of walking away from a store with a purchase in your hand that you’ll never get from online purchases, be they physical media or downloads.  I’ll never get the same feeling I got today leaving Tower with that relatively unknown entity of the Hooker disc, popping it into my CD player, and driving home to find that I’d stumbled upon something amazing.  No package arriving in the mail or set of files downloaded can deliver the satisfying feeling that CD gave me as I pulled out of the parking lot listening to one of the best damned blues CDs I’ve ever heard in my life.


1 Comment »

  1. […] Truth be told, it wasn’t my last trip to Tower. In fact, I have to admit that I’ve hit Tower a few times since then as the clearance sale went up and up. I really didn’t expect much else to tempt me, but as I read more and more testimonials about Tower excursions in these final dark days revealing previously hidden gems, things apparently brought out from deep within storage, I had to go back. And go back again. And then again. And so I’ve managed to hit Tower at least once a week or so, it seems. But, from what I read, this week is truly it – most hints point to Tower’s doors closing by the 17th, or no later than the 24th. Judging by what I saw today, I don’t know how they could possibly last much longer anyway. […]

    Pingback by lookout for hope » Blog Archive » Return to Tower — December 13, 2006 @ 5:44 am | Reply

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