Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Graying of the Neighborhood Record Store

Today's New York Times has an article on Norman's Sound and Vision, a record store off St. Mark's Place in the East Village. Specifically, it's about how the once-booming crowd of shoppers has devolved into half-a-dozen boomers seeking to relive their lost youth, pathetically nodding their gray ponytails to "Frampton Comes Alive." Because of the ever-growing popularity of music downloads, sales of CD's to teenagers are way down, and sales to people over 45 rose to 25.5%.

I don't shop in record stores as often as I used to, preferring to seek out discounts on I would buy downloads more often if iTunes compressed them at a bit rate higher than 128. To these old fogey ears, it sounds as if my old favorites are singing from the bottom of a tin can. I start hearing this "bew-bew-bew" sound around everything, the aural equivalent of moire in a photograph.

One topic I'd be interested in exploring is how much more popular music today's fifty year olds buy as opposed to what our parents bought when we were growing up. My household had some Broadway cast albums, that Herb Alpert thing with the girl covered in whipped cream, and maybe "LBJ in the Catskills." You would never have seen my mother standing in a record store line with a handful of Frank. Yet when Virgin has its British Invasion sale, you're likely to see me with a selection of remastered Beatles, Kinks and Stones. And I'll be in front of a 20-year-old who's buying a dozen albums a week, which seems extravagant to me.

Of course, if the New York Times does do an article like that, it will be in a way that makes baby boomers look foolish, and we will, of course, read it. Because we're also The Therapy Generation.

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