I get by because of the people who make a special effort to shop here – mostly young men – who spend all their time looking for deleted Smith singles and original, not rereleased – underlined – Frank Zappa albums. Fetish properties are not unlike porn. I’d feel guilty taking their money, if I wasn’t… well… kinda one of them. -Rob Gordon fictional character in the 2000 Touchstone Film High Fidelity based on the 1995 book of the same name by Nick Hornby.
Today I was feeling anxious and depressed and a little irritable. So, despite plaguing unemployment in a city with less than a million people, I did what I do when I feel shitty; I went to the record store. Now, Albuquerque has, from what I can find three stores that sell vinyl. Two of them are hodge-podge stores that deal in used finds mostly, with a small selection of barely off the map, indie superstars. I could have bought the new LCD Soundsystem or Lady Gaga albums today for like $25 a piece. But I am not interested in these pop darlings of various degrees. I was actually looking for the new album by the Red Dons called Fake Meets Failure and anything by Canadian Rifle. I kind of knew that this search was going to be an inevitable failure on this part. Record stores, in most parts of the country I can seem to find absolutely nothing I am looking for (outside of Seattle and Philadelphia and I am sure, but don’t know, New York City). Part of this is because I refuse to actually keep a list, part of it is because I refuse to pay 20 dollars for most commercial releases (the Fucked Up and Dismemberment Plan were, I hope anomalies). Part of it is just because record store owners no longer know what nitche their city’s residents are into. And considering that so far, Albuquerque seems to be devoid of a true punk rock underground, you can’t blame the record store owners. Those that actually survive, survive on the luck that one population is selling old vinyl that another population wants.
The thing I realized today though, is that the value of vinyl is based solely in the now. I’m not a big ebay kind of guy. I have never bought any records on ebay and only sold a few there, which I made a modest profit. Not the $50 dollars for some obscure semi-known indie rock band or that limited 500 pressing of the local hardcore band that actually toured the states a few times. I suspect some of the vinyl I own might fetch me some money, but I couldn’t tell you if the value was worth shit or not. Case in point, that D-Plan reissue has the song “Since You Died” on it, which was previously only available on a short run of 7″ from DeSoto records a few years ago. Up until last week, that 7″ probably could have netted me at least $50 bucks. Now that the song is more widely and currently available, is that 7″ worth anything to anybody?
See, today, I bought Andy Warhol, the first album by Velvet Underground and Nico. I paid just over 12 dollars, for what appears to be a pretty damn pristine 1967 pressing of the album. I bought it, not because I am a huge Velvet Underground fan; generally I think Lou Reed was a good song writer that didn’t know how to perform his own songs well. I feel similarly about Bob Dylan by the way. I can’t listen to Bob Dylan sing his own music, but do enjoy cover versions of his songs. That’s neither here nor there. I came across this LP, it was in good shape, at a reasonable price and decided, due to the Warhol connection it was time I owned it. Personally, I like the band more when Nico sings, and I probably should have bought the two cheaper Nico LP’s that wold have equaled the same amount of spread I spent. However, those albums lack Andy Warhol art on them. It’s possible this album is a reissue. But there is nothing that indicates it. Either way, I paid what I thought was fair and the guy at the record store (Mecca Records on Central by the way) didn’t figure he’d have his hands on this album for that long. He’d just gotten it in on Friday, so the story was told.
Despite not being the hugest VU fan in the world, owning Andy Warhol (yes I realize it’s not actually called Andy Warhol but his name is on the front cover and he brought us VU so suck it) on 12″ vinyl phonograph record, while not a be all end all to my existence, was clearly something that I coveted in my life. I’m not gonna lie, while writing this, I kept the cover propped upright and looked at it. It’s a beautiful cover, one I would have bought in 1967 had I been a fat ass 33-year-old fuck head who bought dumb records then. What we desire, covet, to an unhealthy, prurient like degree is kind of sad, the value of which, to most people who are watching football today and eating taco bell, is nothing.
The landscape of America is rapidly changing as we lose record stores, book stores, comic books stores, good video stores. The secrets that we have in public are quickly becoming the secrets we have on cyberspace, which feels lonely. My sinuses don’t get bothered by dust when I get on the internet. I don’t hear music that’s interesting or annoying in full on the internet. I don’t stumble upon new, unknown turn on’s on the internet. I type in what I want, and I get it. Almost all of it for free if I want. We are loosing culture. Not just in small city Albuquerque, New Mexico, but everywhere. This same experience could have happened in DC, even if I was more likely to come across stuff on Deranged Records or No Idea. Sometimes, sure I found exactly what I wanted, but the appeal of the record store has not ever really been the instant gratification, but the turning over of unknown and newly loved gems. Like, you already know this I am sure, but the song “Heroin” is fucking epic. I’ve heard it before, but never like the way I just did, the needle bouncing about the grooves of 44-year-old vinyl. Where are we going to find that shit in the future?