By Danny R. Phillips
For the neo-hippie contingent, April 20th is a borderline religious holiday; for someone like me however, 4/20 this year held a much more important distinction then being a day of getting high and killing a bag or two of Chili Cheese Fritos: this year, 4/20 was Record Store Day.
Record Store Day, for those not familiar with vinyl geekdom, is a day set aside to celebrate brick and mortar record shops. Places like Lovegarden Sounds and Kief’s Audio, both in Lawrence, KS, The Lucky Tiger, Joe City Records and Record Wearhouse in St. Joseph, MO and to a lesser degree, outlets like Hastings that carry the almighty records. Many record labels and bands press limited run vinyl. Doing so in hopes that worshippers of the hallowed black circle (ok, sometimes it’s clear, a picture disc or colored) will max out credit cards, drain bank accounts and obliterate tax refunds; all to purchase some long lost Husker Du, a coveted “Songs for Slim” or a tenth anniversary offering of The White Stripes “Elephant” on alternate color vinyl.
I would like to think I am above the hoopla, this painfully obvious money grab, that my standards are higher, my resolve stronger. They were not. I bought in hook, line and sinker. I got up early with my teenaged daughter Drew in tow as we headed to St. Joe for some deals. Disappointed, I found that none of the outlets in St. Joe was carrying any of the special RSD releases. Thanks to a couple good friends (thanks Clint and Steve) I landed the records I wanted but it got me thinking. “I don’t need one day a year to shine a light on my beloved records. For me, every day is Record Store Day.”
I truly love the idea of walking into a record shop, digging through the racks with little to no plan; the only clear objective is to find something to enjoy. Curiosity guiding my fingers, mind racing, What will I find? What will I find? This feeling is the meaning of Record Store Day to me. Long ago, I traded in “hobbies” that did nothing but harm me, eating away at my being, allowing my love of records to take their place, never to look back.
It is corny I know but music and records have always been a shelter of sorts for me. As a kid, I could block the world outside, ignore the pain of the many surgeries that came along with my Cerebral Palsy, the negativity brought to bear by an a-hole stepfather. With the help of some 1970’s earmuff headphones, a scratchy LP carefully selected from my Mom or older sister’s collections and a cool gatefold jacket to get lost in, I could forget who I was, be someone else.
Records and the music held within the grooves calmed my soul during some of the most trying times of my life. The loss of my beloved grandfather, moving away from my friends, abuse and loss have all been made better by a disc spinning at 78, 45 or 33 and a third rpm. I’ve built a soundtrack through and because of these experiences. That music that has stayed with me for my entire 38 years and will until I leave this Earth.
Sure, I got “No Alternative,” The Cure’s “Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me,” Husker Du’s “Amusement/Statues” and the side by side Stooges/Black Keys doing the classic garage monster “No Fun.” It was a good Record Store Day but then again, every day is Record Store Day to me.