Most of the time, I have little use for the “made-up” holidays (Talk Like a Pirate Day, e.g.) but there is one I wholeheartedly endorse and that is National Record Store Day which is observed this year on April 21st. I had occasion to visit my local record store (The Record Store in Howell) recently, and had a blast. I had passed it many times before and had always meant to go in and check it out and I finally did. I had no idea the reaction I would have, but flipping through the old vinyl made me feel that my adolescence memories were on sale for $4.99 a piece (okay, some were more expensive and some were cheaper but you get the idea).

To say I had a feeling of nostalgia is to vastly understate the experience. There were so many albums where I said, “OMG, I owned that record!” I didn’t even look at the CDs. Memories of sitting in my room listening to the Cars’ first album or Emerson, Lake, & Palmer’s live album in Montreal. Yes, I wound up buying both albums (I still have a turntable). I know I could go on iTunes and buy the individual tracks, but there is something about listening to the cuts exactly in the order that they are on the album, along with the minor hisses and pops that transported me back to my teenage years.

I’m not the only one who loves record stores. I was talking about this with Patrick Lavery, one of our news anchors here at New Jersey 101.5. He frequents the Princeton Record Exchange to get his fix. Here is his account of the record hunting experience:

"During my freshman year at The College of New Jersey, two of my upperclassmen friends who worked with me at WTSR (the campus radio station) took me to PREX for the first time, and I was hooked. That was about 12 years ago, and since then I've picked up more than 100 CDs there -- every single one of them from the $1.99 used CD shelves in the back right corner. Now, of course that means you can't guarantee quality (what is Steve Winwood's Back in the High Life if "Higher Love" skips uncontrollably?), but the overall value is tremendous.”

Pat Lavery's CD collection
Patrick Lavery photo

I made it out with only buying 12 albums (some were musical soundtracks for my wife) but I plan on going back for more. I mentioned that I just wanted to go in and check the store out, but I wound up whiling away over 2 hours flipping through all the alphabetized LPs and every gem I found reminded me of two others I wanted to find. It also revealed acts I had forgotten about (there were quite a few Spyro Gyra albums). If you prefer more recent music there is a separate section with brand new LP from newer acts like My Chemical Romance.

I urge everyone who ever enjoyed vinyl records to visit their local record store to make sure these stores stay in business. They’re not just commercial outlets, they are like curated museums of audio history except you can buy the exhibits.

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