So farewell then HMV, record label turned record shop turned master of nobody’s voice in the end.
Every dog has his day. I felt a bit sad to hear the news that one of the last remaining high street record shops was to go into administration and even though staff say they are going to battle on and try and turn things around I fear the worst for their future.
I went in to the one in Wycombe just before Christmas looking for inspiration for gifts. Roughly speaking there were five areas of the shop. There were books, but they are cheaper elsewhere and there is more selection.
There were DVDs, but people are streaming films these days and sales are plummeting. There were video games, but GAME is just round the corner. There were headphones and iPod docks, but they are 25% cheaper online.
And then there were CDs. I love CDs, just as I used to love vinyl. I think it was actually flipping the record sleeves and CDs that appealed to me the most.
It was the hope that something unexpected would catch your eye and then light up your ears even more. I have written before about spending my youth browsing through Brice’s, cataloguing in Kinghams and spending hours in Record House.
You could buy records in Rumbelows years ago, and if you dragged your flares as far as Oxford there were dozens of record shops to lose yourself in.
I think the biggest change in the buying process has been that nowadays people want to own the music itself, not the CD or record. I use Spotify to stream whatever music I like, on tap, with no need to cover an entire wall with plastic cases. Therefore I don’t truly mourn the passing of a faceless record shop chain too much, but I do mourn the variety and choices that are disappearing these days.
If I want Adele, One Direction or Pink then I can still pop into Sainsbury’s where the top 20 CDs are still available.
Supermarkets stock all the big acts and singers and for most people that will suffice.
But I don’t like them. I like awkward angular rock music. Are Tesco going to have the new album by the Wedding Present? Or more importantly albums by brand new bands on the up? The answer is a simple NO.
X Factor 1 Real Music 0. And lord help anyone looking for Jazz or blues or soundtracks.
Actually, lord help anyone who has ever looked for jazz records anyway.
Time moves on, shops close down, and somehow I go backwards every time that the world moves forward.