Saturday, October 14, 2006

Changing Times: Goodbye Tower Records

"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry it'll change.
If you're in a good situation, don't worry it'll change."

-John A. Simone Sr.

Sigh. I suppose everything eventually changes, but does it always have to be the really niftiest parts of my childhood? Gone are most of the walk-in music stores, and now one more giant, perhaps one of the last great music store giants, Tower Records, is closing it's shop on Jones/Bay/Columbus, after 38 years. What a great location, right at the edge of North Beach, and what an awesome bit of San Francisco history it was a part of. This store in the record shop's chain, opened in 1968, just one year after the "summer of love," and was around during the counter-culture movement of the time. Close your eyes for a moment, can't you just hear the music of that era in your head...

People Got To Be Free
By The Rascals

All the world over, so easy to see
People everywhere just want to be free
Listen, please listen, that's the way it should be
Deep in the valley, people got to be free...

The music of the late 60's meant something to me. When my brother left for Viet Nam, he asked me to care for his record collection. The Beatles, The Rascals, Lovin' Spoonful, The Irish Rovers, I loved them all. Sometimes, I would play them on my brother's record player, and for a little while it seemed like he wasn't so far away. When he came home from Viet Nam in 1970, he and I went to San Francisco in his new car. It was a gorgeous summer day, somewhere around my birthday. We drove all over the city, listening to music on the radio, and enjoying the sights. The last thing we did that day, was to stop and shop for some music at this very Tower Records store. I don't remember everything from that day, as clearly as I remember stopping in for there to grab some new music.

Ok, I know, CD's sound a whole lot better then the old vinyl. Ordering and downloading music from iTunes is a lot more affordable then buying entire albums, and it's also true that purchasing music from big box stores such as Wal-Mart makes financial sense, but I wish that there was a way that we could have it all, and that having more choices for things didn't mean the end to doing some things the old fashioned way. Too bad the time machine hasn't been invented yet, which would allow us to visit those perfect days we file away in our memories, where everything just seemed to be working right, and the pursuit of a better way wasn't a part of our thoughts. simply because we were happy in the moment.

Oh well, I visited the shop the other day, and purchased a Paul McCartney CD from his years with Wings. "Wingspan." I will probably be dropping in there every so often, until it closes for good. I have a list of music I want to pick up, including some of the great music my brother shared with me. Music plays really loud to my soul, sometimes to the point a certain tune will haunt me. Remember when "Take The Long Way Home," played in my head for about 26 weeks or so? LOL.

I was wondering to myself the other day, had Janis Joplin ever stopped in this particular shop to purchase some music? Maybe, so just imagine how cool it would have been to maybe have been the customer standing in line directly behind her. :) LOL. So tell me, do you have a favorite era of music? How about a great memory you have, centered around a favorite song? Please tell me about it in the comment thread for this entry. Go ahead...sing know you want to! :)

Click here to read more about the closing of Tower Records.

"Tower Records"
San Francisco, California
October 11th, 2006


GLendaRs said...

Doot Doot Doot Dooooooooo ... oooh!

Sounds like a good time to add a little, he ain't heavy - HE'S MY BROTHER!! and i wonder if you had to travel the long and winding road stop off at a counter and say "give me a ticket for and airplane, ain't got time to catch a fast train ... lonely days are gone, I'm a going home ... my baby she wrote me a letter" Ah. I know "carry me back to California, I've been on the road to long ... take me to the west coast baby and let me be oh let me be where I belong". Except in my case "East Coast Girls are Hip" . . .

I love your choice here. I was a smidge beneath the radar during the Peace, Flower Power and Free Love movement ... I'd have had to have had a passport to get into Woodstock (lol) but I did wear peasant dresses, bell bottoms and my hair parted down the middle in my high school years.

I recall songs like 4 dead in Ohio & the day the music died.

Bye Bye Miss American Pie ... Have a great leaf turning, sun shining Autumn Day.

Enjoy that vacation . . . I remember flying solo at 15 to So. CA and the song of the season was "Kodachrome .. brings us the night's bright colors ... all the world's a sunny day ... like to take the photographs so momma don't take my kodachrome away" .. I end my post with that thought because I know that is your form of free speech!! Woo Hoo.

Marc said...

I'm going to miss the 2 Tower Records (formerly 3) that we have here in Boston. I spent hours browsing in those places.

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Tower never reached Tucson, as far as I know. But late one night, somewhere near Riverside, CA, the twins and I stopped at a Tower just off the freeway, and I was thrilled to find their last copy of Romance/Romance, a CD of Scott Bakula's Broadway show from 1988.

I bought my Monkees LPs at Manlius Pharmacy, a remaindered Mamas & the Papas LP at Shopper's Fair, and many of my Beatles LPs at W.T. Grant in Shoppingtown. None of those stores exist anymore, I'm pretty sure. In fact, that Grant's burned down about the time they were starting to turn Shoppingtown into a mall.

Sigh. Now I miss Syracuse / Manlius again.