October 10, 2006

Tower Records is No More

My musical youth has a chapter closed with the Sale and Liquidation of Tower Records. In Central California, where I went to high school there was rather little constructive to do. I was a fan of music and played in school bands and some pick-up bands. But the place where much of the discussion about music took place was Tower Records.

The Social Gathering Spot

Tower Records was one of my first non-formal social meeting places. I would meet friends there to talk about new bands and music of interest, which included things that were not quite on local radio that embraced a mono-culture of rock, more rock, some rock, and light rock. Radio did not venture too far from "Top 40" radio, but Tower Records did. Not only did I find out from friends music that could be of interest to me, but the staff was insanely knowledgeable. I had my jazz interests broadended and found out about non-American bands.

Tower Grew with Me

As I moved around to university and life beyond, Tower Records remained a resource of smart musically engaged staff that could make great recommendations or do a deep dive on nearly any genre of music. In the past few years I have been trying to find similar recommendations services that are as broad as the human staff at Tower Records, but nothing can quite match it. I still have been shopping at Tower Records as my off-center music interests can be satiated at Tower on a Saturday looking through the new music discount stack or bin. I could walk into the nearest Tower to me and have a half-brained request with remotely partial information and the staff would nail what I was seeking. I continued to discover more music of interest that I was not getting turned on to anywhere else. The prices at Tower for much of the new music farther out in the long tail met my price point metric of less than 12 US dollars.

Other Poor Options

While I would occasionally buy from Amazon or other on-line retailer, Tower was my place. Now I am heading more toward on-line only as Walmart and Best Buy have incredibly horrible staff that continually walk away rather than answer a question to get a sale. Both have the most painful customer service and I know an quick in and out trip will turn into a 45 minute lesson poor customer service and how poorly trained and unpassionate staff can ruin an experience. Tower was about people passionate about music.

Holiday Memories

One memory that will always last with me is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There was very little open in Stockton, California, the place that is a giant suburb, without and "urb" to be a sub of. In high school we would gather at Tower on Christmas Eve night and head there the first opportunity we had on Christmas Day to spend whatever money we had garnered or to return the Carpenters greatest hts album. In the college years it was the place to gather and see friends who did not go to the "big party". In the post college years it was the place to go when the bars seemed like they were filled with young kids home from college and so loud you could not have a conversation. Tower Records held great memories and was held together by staff with great passion for the music they sold.



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