Is a world without Tower Records a world worth living in?

Sadly, we’re about to find out.

The Great American Group – there’s something oddly sinister about that name – has bought Tower’s liquidation rights. All of their remaining stores will be shut down. Dude.

This is like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and someone is taking my memories and erasing them from the planet, not just from my head. I spent countless hours at a slew of Tower Records stores. The two most frequented ones were the one on Mass Ave. and Newbury in Boston, which has been gone for years now (I waited in line behind Extreme singer Gary Cherone when we were returning videos) and the one on Clark and Belden in Chicago, where Happy Goth and I once sat on the floor Indian style, like school children, and watched Richard Butler sing various Psychedelic Furs and Love Spit Love songs. Behind me, Art Alexakis from Everclear was still talking with fans, hours after his in-store appearance. Back in 1995, I accidentally walked out of that store with a Pet Shop Boys CD single without paying for it. Seriously, I totally forgot. Sorry, guys.

These stores were second homes to me. I would spend hours and hours perusing the shelves of the singles (12” records in Boston, CDs in Chicago), hitting the listening stations for new music, and checking out the British rock mags like Q. I even went to the Mass Ave. store for a midnight sale the night that Duran Duran’s Wedding Album was being released, and there were hundreds of people there ready to buy records the second the clock struck 12. Of course, most of them were there to buy Van Halen’s live album Right Here, Right Now, but the Durannies were there in strong numbers too, and I remember the thrill of them playing the Wedding Album over the speakers before we could buy it.

There are no places like that anymore.

Sure, Virgin Megastore is still left, but there’s something about their stores that leaves me cold. They have all the same stuff as Tower – indeed, they have even more, with the overpriced clothes and all – but I don’t feel as encouraged to, well, loiter as I did in Tower’s stores. Sure, I’m in the fortunate position of getting all of my music for free now, but what about the 23-year-old version of me out there, or the 14-year-old version? Where are they going to go to find the latest bands? The internet is cool and all, but there was something about actually interacting with other people that created a connection to music, and that is about to disappear forever. Do you think the people at Best Buy and Wal-Mart know the first thing about music? To them, CDs are just units, and next month, they will be gone, replaced by a different unit.

No one wants to admit it, but this is going to have a huge ripple effect throughout the industry, and I don’t like the direction I think things are about to take. A dark, dark day for music fans everywhere.


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