Your Civic Duty: Record Store Day

I think this might my longest radio silence since I began this blog almost 2 years ago. (Holy crap! Has it been so long?) Suffice it to say that spring has sprung and the day job is positively humming away like a steam locomotive heading straight for a bridge that is no longer there (read: no end in sight and picking up speed). Add to this the bitter reality that my brain has simply not been cooperating enough lately to even contemplate putting my fingers to a keyboard outside of work and you have the complete recipe for a silent blog. (I know, excuses, excuses! Whine, whine, bitch, bitch, etc.) But what, you may ask, could possibly be so important that I would attempt to overcome my stifling writer’s block on a sunny spring day after a long day at work. Only one thing my friends: your civic responsibility.

Yes, just like it is the duty of every American citizen to vote, to help wayward turtles across the street to safety, and to wave at your friendly neighborhood crossing guard, you have the duty to support your local, independent small business owners in mid-April. And not that creepy hole in the wall storefront that sells crabs. No, no, I mean the ones who will sell you that new Vampire Weekend album you’ve been jonesing for. That’s right, folks! Saturday, April 20th is Record Store Day (my very favorite secular holiday!)

If the next question bursting from your lips is, “What the heck is Record Store Day?” then obviously you’ve had your head stuck in the clouds. Well never fear, my dear deprived readers, for all will be explained with my handy-dandy Record Store Day fact sheet:

What: Record Store Day
When: Saturday, April 20th (all 4/20 jokes unspoken)
Time: All day
Where: Participating venues in every state and most cities. Click here to check your local listing.

But the most important question is why? In the modern world, music is available everywhere, sometimes even for free. All you have to do is grab a computer or IOS device, punch a few keys, and music is practically thrown at you. No muss, no fuss, no dragging your butt down the street, no shirt or shoes required. But also… no soul, no joy, no heart. Some of my happiest memories are roaming the miles of aisles in record stores; walls crammed with posters; teenagers running loose in the stacks; brushing elbows with both young and old, black and white, hipster and redneck. And there is no substitute for riffling through piles of albums, finding that one that you absolutely HAVE to have, plunking your money down on the counter, and rushing home to listen to it before your heart rate returns to normal. It is an experience that fewer and fewer people are having these days and–in my opinion–that is just downright tragic.

Heed my warning! Don’t wait! Make the pilgrimage to your local record store before it is too late. Grab that album you’ve been meaning to pick up, peal back the plastic, pop the disc into the nearest player, and savor your musical good fortune while you still can. As a bonus, you’ll also be helping support a local small business owner. Your local chamber of commerce will thank you for doing your part to keep the economy alive. It is your duty as a citizen of [insert country name here]. Oh come on, you know you want to! All the cool kids are doing it!

And to help you get your brains in gear (and mine), here’s just a few of the bands that I intend to search for this weekend. Enjoy!

TRAILS AND WAYS

Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros
[Technically this one is a remix, but it is brilliant, so listen to it anyway!]

Tinted Windows

The Flaming Lips

Tegan and Sara

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How do you say goodbye?

A recent parting of the way has gotten me thinking about songs of grief and songs of goodbye. Despite my constant obsession with music, and my musings here about the uses and meanings of music in our lives, I have never had a song specifically for someone who died before. After the recent loss of a (second) loved childhood pet, one that affected me more than I had expected, a song immediately jumped to mind. It was one I hadn’t heard for quite some time, but the poignancy of it (and the memories it brought to the surface) was almost enough to make me cry all by itself.

It was shortly after this that I realized what a first this was for me. I started going back over all the deaths that had touched my life, trying to think of songs associated with those people. But nothing came to mind. In most times of grief, music has left me alone with a sharp and marked silence. This is true of other sad experiences like break-ups, both romantic and plutonic. Suddenly every song I hear is hollow; just doesn’t ring true. Or worse it is a constant reminder of what has been lost and I can’t stand to listen to it. This is the first time that a song has bridged that gap, not only reminding but consoling. And as such, it is worthy of documenting.

The song in question is Cinnamon Girl from Neil Young’s 1969 album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The goodbye is for Cinnamon, my cat. Our cat really. She was an equal opportunity kind of cat. If you were human and had the ability to feed her, she’d yell at you until you went in the back room and did her bidding. Didn’t matter who you were or if you even knew what she wanted. A sweet and lovable cat at times, Cinnamon was more roommate than pet, as I found out during undergrad when I moved into her domain. I had given up my old bedroom in favor of a private entrance, some more privacy, and my mother’s dreams of having a sewing room. It just so happened that this was the room Cinnamon had claimed for herself. I quickly discovered that living in close quarters with this cat was.. well… interesting. And often noisy. Mostly I remember ┬ánot being able to move my legs in the night without kicking her, having commandeered her own spot of the bed. And yelling at her. Cinnamon was a champion debater and always had to have the last word. Unless you gave in and gave her what she wanted, she’d keep bugging you with a shrill meow every step you took.

But she was still a sweet girl and in time we struck a truce of sorts. Despite moving out several years ago, she still occupies a soft spot in my heart. She had been sick for a while, and may have realized that it was time to go. She passed in her sleep on the old couch in her room at the age of about 16, right about the time my dad started contemplating taking her to the vet. She hated the vet and I am glad she was spared one last visit. She had a good life for a cat and she will be missed. Her connection to this song is mainly through her name and the fact that I would sing it to her sometimes. But there were a few lines that kept repeating over and over in my head last week as I dealt with the news she had passed:

“I wanna live with a Cinnamon girl

I could be happy the rest of my life with a Cinnamon girl.

A dreamer of picture, I run in the night

You see us together chasing the moonlight.

My Cinnamon girl.”

This song has been covered many times and by a wide variety of artists, from Smashing Pumpkins, to Type O Negative, to Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs (of the Bangles). Here it is in the original form.

Do you have a song that reminds you of someone now gone?