For the beginning of spring I figured I’d go buy a couple good jazz lps. So I head down to Real Records, the land of a million jazz albums, and – it’s closed. Closed permanently. This is immensely saddening. When I was a record-buying kid, there were four good record stores in downtown Iowa City. Now there’s just a diminished Record Collector, and even that I hear is moving away from downtown. I bought my first albums at Real – and my very first cd. It was staring agog at all the Coltrane cds, albums I never dreamed of finding on lp, that got me to ask for a cd player for my birthday. I bought “European Impressions,” some live recording with Eric Dolphy, before I even had the cd player – just kept it on my shelf dreaming of what it sounded like. (That makes me think of an anecdote about a Chinese poet: “Tao Yuanming knew nothing of music, but he had at home a simple unadorned zither without any strings. Whenever he experienced, in drinking wine, a feeling of plenitude, he touched the zither in order to express the aspiration of his heart.”)
It occurred to me as I walked away from the shut-down Real that it’s pretty much all over for the local record store. I imagine that people are probably buying more lps now than they were a few years ago, but it’s a specialty thing. Record shopping will continue online. Real, in fact, is going to have an online store. There will still be a few cool shops in New York, etc.
God, I hate buying records online. Songs, fine. But records? To download a record is pointless, because you never listen to a whole album, or if you do it’s just for the first two weeks. Then it melts into the iTunes library.