If I was going to write this post before the advent of Napster and music downloading, its utility would be highly debatable. After all, there was a CD store in almost every corner of the USA. However, ever since Tower Records, Virgin Records, Sam Goody, Borders (they used to have a good CDs section) and HMV (in America) went bankrupt, something like an urban legend started to spread: you can’t buy CDs in America anymore. That’s bullshit.
I just mentioned those mega-stores because they were always downtown or sometimes even in a shopping mall. Therefore any dumb person was able to find them. Now, what you have are the rather wonderful independent record stores and some of them need you to look a little outside the box.
First, if you are really interested in buying CDs in an American city, take advantage of some good tourism websites. I, personally, always research “yelp.com” to see if I could find some record stores in the city where I’m going to. And I always manage to find something, regardless of the place.
And there’s the rub. Let’s take Chicago for example. Whereas before there was a huge and excellent Virgin Megastore on Michigan Avenue and a Tower Records not so far away, now you have to dig a little deeper. If you use “yelp.com” (I know it sounds like I’m advertising for them, but I’m just telling you how I do) you’ll find some independent and used CD stores in the neighborhoods. You just need to see the address and ride the subway. However, there was still a FYE downtown as well not so long ago.
New York is a little trickier. I can’t tell you about Brooklyn, Bronx or Queens but in Manhattan, there are very few used CD stores and they are not very good. But again, I didn’t have the patience to search the other boroughs. I’m sure that must be some cool ones somewhere. New York is huge.
New Orleans is a musical city and gone were the days where in the same street within a short walking distance of one and other, you could go from Tower Records to Virgin Records. However, at that time you already had a wonderful used record store called Magic Bus. It was through them that I discovered the wonders of used CDs stores. It was wonderful but they went out of business after Katrina. Now, in the very same place where there was Tower Records is Peach Records. It’s a little expensive, but it’s good. If you are not driving and is willing, you can catch a cab and go to Euclid Records. It’s a dream for those who love vinyl. There’s also Jim Russell Rare Records on Magazine Street. You gonna need to catch a streetcar for this one, but it’s worth it just for the trip, you pass through some rather wonderful places. And there’s the small but nice Skully’z Records on Bourbon Street and Louisiana Music Factory. The latter only had typical Louisiana music until some time ago, but now they are carrying all types of music, so it’s worth a visit.
Of course, Boston (Newbury Comics), Denver (Twist And Shout and at least two others), Seattle (Silver Platters and Eastwest Records) and Austin (Waterloo) are, at least of the cities I’ve been to, the best ones to buy CDs. It isn’t a coincidence that Boston, Denver and Seattle and their main record stores are featured on my book, “Straight And Lethal”.
All in all the final message is this: you can still buy CDs in America. The difference is that you just need to look a little further than before (nothing that an internet search can’t solve) and be willing to take a cab or a bus, ride the subway or walk longer distances.
Queen – Queen II
Paul McCartney – New
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