“Despite being in the prime of their youth during the 1960s, and against all odds, my parents did not own a single record that anyone with mildly discerning taste in popular music at the time might have considered cool—save for perhaps Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. Though to be fair, someone undoubtedly must have given it to them as a gift, or more likely left it by accident. To this day if the title track from said album comes on the radio my father mistakes it for Bette Midler’s “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” The point is, while I’d like to at least believe I have good taste now, we’re certainly not all born with it.”
“Don’t get me wrong, we had plenty of records neatly alphabetized in the old console, a handsome rectangular wooden box, replete with built-in radio to the left, and a bulky metal turntable on the right. But we’re talking Lawrence Welk, Perry Como, An Andy Williams Christmas, lots of musicals and soundtracks, and one particularly square gospel record autographed by a friend of my mother named Dottie.
There were a few other odds and ends, but it all added up to a perfect storm of sinister musical fuckery! This may all sound rather judgmental in 2017, but the truth is, I actually adored and devoured these records. I must have listened to How The West Was Won a hundred times over. And to this day, John Denver is most certainly not a “guilty pleasure.” Still, not to own the most obvious Stones or Beatles album at the time seemed a deliberate act.
Eventually, my sister procured the Grease soundtrack and Debby Boone’s You Light Up My Life. I can’t say I didn’t listen to it, as I still know all of the songs. Plausible deniability aside, I knew something was very wrong. Though how do you know that something better is out there if you haven’t heard it yet? At any rate, it wasn’t until I stumbled upon a radio broadcast about the secret death of Paul McCartney and his subsequent imposter that I finally discovered The Beatles. That discovery may seem rather vanilla and ubiquitous now, but it wasn’t far removed from their heyday at the time. I was hooked.
I remember feeling somewhat excited and nervous when I realized I should be buying my own records. So I walked up to Clark Music on the square in Decatur, GA and bought Meet The Beatles. After wearing it out, I wanted more. The problem was that Clark Music, on the whole, looked a lot like my parents record collection. They didn’t have any other Beatles records. And I didn’t need any Mac Davis albums. Surely there was somewhere else.
And behold, there it was! The magical Wuxtry Records, only a short bike ride away in the opposite direction. The guys in this store looked a lot different than straight-laced old Harry Clark. They had long hair, and bad attitudes, and there was a big poster that said The Sex Pistols in the window.
It took me a while to work up the nerve to go in. I think his name was Chuck. He had glasses, a mop of curly black hair, and if a friend of mine is to be trusted at this late date, a severe case of dandruff. Nonetheless, he carefully guided me along as I bought album after Beatle album, starting with the earlier loveable stuff. Maybe he was trying to ease me into the drug-fueled psychedelic period, as I was still just a little boy on a bike from the neighborhood. Let’s just say I owe him a debt of gratitude, as I soon graduated to R.E.M., The dbs, Let’s Active, The Church, The Chameleons…and the list goes on.
Miraculously, Wuxtry is going strong today. It’s still in the same storefront, and dare I say, perhaps some of the same staff may work there? I’ll visit on the rare occasion I find myself in Atlanta. Though its very existence brings me back to the same question, how do you know that something better is out there if you haven’t heard it yet?
I’m not one to rail against the new paradigm in music consumption. That train has left the station. I do, however, lament the endless choice offered by a nameless blank search screen. The Internet is not the great equalizer after all. And that’s why vinyl has assumed so much importance in recent years. Sometimes we need someone in the know to curate our burgeoning musical curiosity; or to take a chance on that band with the cool album cover while flipping through a stack of records.
I can attest to the intensive work it takes to produce an LP, having recently released a posthumous double album on clear vinyl from my old Athens, GA band Seven Simons. For a year, it was like a second job. But to me, it was all worth the effort. Maybe to someone out there it will mean something as well.
And by the way, Post by Seven Simons is available at Wuxtry Records!”
Published by The Vinyl District: http://www.thevinyldistrict.com/storefront/2017/05/les-biches-the-tvd-first-date/