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Record Store Reminiscing: Arguing About Music

Record Store Reminiscing: Arguing About Music
Flickr via vermilionink

I don't even know you, and I want to argue with you. About music. That's right. It's been almost two years since the record store I used to own, Hoodlums Music, closed -- and that's the main thing I miss about it. Arguing about music.

Seriously, Geek? You owned your own record store for 15 years and that's what draws your nostalgic urges? Arguing? It's true. Let's start with Lennon vs. McCartney.

That Got Your Attention, Didn't It, Yoko?

You've got yourself an opinion on which Beatle is the ultimate, eh? The answer is Paul. That's easy. What? It's not so easy in your book? Ya like Johnny, do ya? Well, you're wrong, and I'll tell you why.

In a little bit.

Because first I wanted to make my point: Arguing about music is fun, perhaps even addictive.

If you're all geared up to tell me about Lennon's social activism, or Paul's shitty duets and albums, or whatever debate point you've already got loaded up in your brain -- then you are beginning to see my point.

Because when you are passionate about music -- just like sports, fashion, cooking, or whatever your interest may be -- a healthy debate lets the passion flow. If you know enough to navigate yourself around the subject, and you've got passion for it, then you are bound to have yourself a little opinion.

And if you've got an opinion, and any sort of a backbone, then you've got a position to take -- and maybe even defend.

Just like me.

 

Can't We All Just Get Along? Do We Have to Argue?

Most people that know me will probably testify that I just like to argue period. I won't argue with that.

I'm always ready to do a little verbal sparring about pretty much anything for which I feel passion. It's like a little brain game.

Truth be told, if I had my druthers I'd debate and discuss politics, religion, and philosophy. However, I usually find myself unengaged because most people fall back on the old "you shouldn't talk politics and religion" axiom (usually because they can't intellectually back up, or haven't thought through, their positions and beliefs on either subject).

So I've learned to quench my argumentative needs through music and sports.

There's always some toad (like me) ready to debate music and sports.

Or so I used to think. While I'm still having no problem finding people to give me a decent argument about sports, it's a lot harder finding a good music debate now that my baby (Hoodlums) is gone.

Why Do You Need a Record Store for That?

While I have no doubt that there's plenty of hearty music nuts out there ready to debate me about John vs. Paul, or Roger vs. David, or Jimmy vs. Eric - there's simply no place like a record store to find them and engage in said debate.

You can find them out here in the real world, but it's pretty rare. There are plenty of music fans, but most of them don't have the passion, or perhaps haven't logged the time listening, to give me a decent debate.

And Lord knows I've looked online, which is where most of my other favorite "record store addictions" (testing new music, gathering info about albums and artists, looking for trusted recommendations) are now being satisfied. But the problem with the web isn't a lack of information or opinionated toads that think they have it... the problem is finding a forum in which to openly debate.

By that, I mean a place where you stand behind your take, and I'll stand behind mine. Not the typical forum with some chicken shit talking profane shots from behind his or her (I suspect it's nearly always a "his") fake online moniker.

Note: I'm not bothered by the profanity, I'm bothered by the chicken shit.

I mean, who wants to debate Ignorantbastard455? That sort of anonymity leads to all sorts of name-calling and trash talking - which isn't the kind of argument I like at all.

I prefer a wide-open, at least semi-intellectual debate.

Because even though most of the important debates in music - like those of religion, politics, and sports - are entirely based on opinion and beliefs (which should not be confused with facts), if you are smart you can still make a good case for your take.

Unfortunately, I can't get that online.

I'm constantly trying to stir people up with these columns. I write about how kids today are musically spoiled, about how the vinyl revolution is overblown, or 22 other debatable topics - just for the purposes of getting my fellow music fans to think about it - but it only creates a paradox, because I never get to hear their takes and challenges.

Does Up On The Sun have comments? That's what they tell me.

But they (my fellow writers and editors) also tell me not to bother reading them because mainly it's just anonymous people being snarfy. "Reading the comments is an exercise in self-doubt" is the exact quote that sticks in my head from the initial writers' meeting.

So I don't bother arguing online.

 

Welcome To My Debate, er, Record Store

In the store, things were different.

The biggest music nuts in the world came in day after day. In fact, as the years rolled on and the business model changed, and the lightweights were served up free music, the percentage of music nut to average music fan increased dramatically.

It was a like a petri dish of potential debate. The kind of debate about which I speak.

You see, there's no monikers to hide behind in the store. You've got to get off the fence and stand behind your point.

Were there some customers who didn't feel comfortable debating a music professional (every fellow geek I've ever worked would get a kick of me using that term) about music?

Sure.

But not many.

Because most people understand that it's not a real argument, and whatever I say isn't right or wrong, it's just an opinion. It's just for fun.

You Say Lennon, I Say McCartney. Let's Call the Whole Thing Great.

So in the store, I would tell you that I do consider McCartney the top Beatle because overall, all of his great solo and Wings songs simply provide me a bigger batch of enjoyable songs and albums than Lennon's catalog.

And then I would shoot down your argument about all the shitty music Paul has made us suffer through by pointing out that Lennon's tragic early death eliminated his chance of making sub-par music in his later years like literally every one of his peers that are still alive (including Paul).

Then you could tell me I'm full of shit, and provided nine reasons why.

And it wouldn't matter, because we'd have a good time debating it and no one would end up being right or wrong (and we'd probably agree that the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team is the greatest in history anyway).

I miss that.

Not enough to reopen the store, but enough to write this column.

Thanks for reading it.

Steve Wiley is Up on the Sun's resident Record Store Geek and Jackalope Ranch's Parent Hood.

See also: - Record Store Geek: A Beatles Refresher Course for Pups and Middle-Aged Rookies - A Father's Duty: Listening to Worn Out Classics on KSLX


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