The Last One To Leave, Please Turn Off The Lights

Last week I watched a new documentary – I Need That Record.

I Need That Record!

The film, produced, written and directed by one Brendan Toller was released in April and it documents, independently, the total collapse of the mom&pop of the music world – the independent record stores.
3000 of them shut in the US in recent years.
In an exciting, sometimes funny and mainly depressing documentary,  brings the filmmaker the historical reasons to the domino effect of record stores process of going out of business.
Some of the ‘guilt’ (if you can speak in these terms at all) has to do with pirates of course, some with Clinton’s law, some has to do with the big fat greedy record companies but mainly it has to do with you guys.
You that stopped going to the stores and now cry your guts out about how the world became individual and community life went down the drain.
But you only did the inevitable – moved on with technology and life, so I accept your apologize.

In the film, where famous stores’ owners are telling their story, aside to musicians from the alternative side of the spectrum (Glenn Branca, Mike Watt , Lenny Kaye, Chris Frantz, Thurston Moore, Toller tried to describe in a graceful, not bitter, way, how humanity lost for corporate America.

Just like the mom&pop groceries  that went out of business because they were swallowed by the big supermarkets, so has the music stores, once a place for die hard fans of Hawkwind or Deviants, who came to the stores to fight about which of their records is the best – now a cry for the lost of community, small, life.Aside for the economical aspect that the stores’ owners suffer from, it’s mainly a loss for the individuals that cannot go to the store and sit with the guy behind the counter for an hour and discuss the last Swans album, or discover the new exciting band.

You can argue about the necessity of stores’ communities. After all, people are still discussing music and discover it through blogs, forums, discussion groups and Facebook, and that  small town feeling is still here, only changes its shape. But the idea of leaving the house for this reason, looks strange all of a sudden. You’d agree with me, people who born in the eighties and before, that you’re looking on the generation that grows under our noses, and feel sorry for them, for not knowing the fun of playing soccer in the streets anymore and the whole juvenile naivety that is left for the Farmville surprises.
Think about it, only a tiny percentage of them crack their heads after falling from their BMX, trying to pull a crazy stunt. Those were the days.

I can tell you my personal experience, of a 17 years old depressed kid, going to the Third Ear record store (the best shop in Israel for alternative, and rare stuff – something like Aquarius records or similar to that), how I felt delighted when the guys behind the counter agreed to talk to me for more than 1.5 minutes, and rebuke me for not knowing Soft Machine’s Third. Years later, me standing behind the same counter, a dream come true, I remember the amazing satisfaction of telling a 17 year old boy that Soft Machine had a ‘twin’ band called Matching Mole and that there’s much more into Wyatt then Rock Bottom.

So for me, this community is important but as I said – It’s not gone, it just changes shape, like every sort of energy.
Still, I miss the argues, the show off, and the ‘sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name’ kind of feeling I had in the local record store. No one set the kettle and offer me coffee in Facebook, bands flyers on the counter changed to digital events invitations, and I can try to pin their RSVP in my cork board, but I’m not sure it will hold.

I Need That Record! The Death (Or Possible Survival) Of The Independent Record Store, is all about that. It’s a bit more than an hour, but contains more than two hours of interviews with the musicians I mentioned, in the bonus section.
It’s a must see, for every indivendual who had a ‘homebase’ in a shape of a record store, where he learned about new music, developed as a person, got kicked of the store for not knowing Pere Ubu, and miss the old times, with cell phones, twits, and Steve Jobs.

Buy the movie

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