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Tower’s End

The Washington Post on the final weeks of Tower Records. Despite the reporter’s Old Fogeyishness, I can relate to the fact that a sense of discovery is lost with the closing of these stores. The Tempe, AZ Tower Records location was my favorite hangout during my student days. I’d bike there just about every week in high school, then in college it became easier since the store was located just steps away from the Art building at Arizona State University. Mostly I’d just thumb through the albums (and, later, the CDs), study all the neat artwork and compile a mental list of stuff I’d want to own. The Tempe store later relocated across the parking lot to a larger space in the same strip mall, but the funky ambience wasn’t the same. Then they moved way across town. More recently I’d try to visit the Phoenix location, but they never had anything I wanted and the place seemed kind of sad and run-down. The experience was disillusioning. I prefer to remember the good old Tower from the ’80s and early ’90s. So here’s a fond farewell from another customer.

6 Thoughts on “Tower’s End

  1. Mass Bradley on December 12, 2006 at 9:58 pm said:

    When I was a Tower Habitue in the Early Eighties ( at the Flagship Store On Sunset Blvd. in L.A., natch …) I was always impressed by two things– their incredibly knowledgable staff, AND those wonderful over-sized album covers they used to advertise the latest releases– air-brushed by some nameless elves that were about five feet by five feet big…
    You know; U2’s “Boy” or Tom Petty’s “Hard Promises”– truly lovely works of disposable art that served as signals for so many touchstones of college boys that hadn’t yet been infected by the delights of The Smiths or Other Alternative Rockers…
    I was so smitten by these Lost Works Of Art that I actually paid Hard Money ( I think about twenty bucks, to be honest– Potfulls Of Cash in Those Go-Go Years!) to get the chance to dig through the Company Dumpsters and retrieve my favorites and pull out “Songs From The Big Chair” and “Tatoo
    You” banners and wrap them up in cheap plastic tarps in the hope that some day I’d frame them, display them, and ultimately display them in my Personal Rock ‘N’Roll Palace I’d one day call my home…
    Fast forward twenty yearts.
    Still got them.
    In The Garage.
    E-Bay Be Damned.
    Gonna put my kid through school when I sell ’em.
    Told Ya I was a Good Daddy…

  2. Mass Bradley on December 12, 2006 at 10:03 pm said:

    Please render “Twenty Yearts” to mean “Twenty Years”…

  3. Mass Bradley on December 12, 2006 at 10:11 pm said:

    …Also got A Mint (!!!) “Sweets From A Stranger” Squeeze Banner Signed by Jools Holland and Mr. Difford hanging in my basement that you’re gonna have to pry from my cold and dead fingers some day…

  4. Two fond memories of Tower Records.

    1. Seeing the Plimsouls play in a Tower Records parking lot in Anaheim in 1983. Got the Million Miles EP signed by the band.

    2. Waiting about two hours in line at a Tower in LA for a record signing event with X in 1983 or 84. Got the LA album signed as well, including “Bill, Yours ever so truly, Exene.”

    Later, Tower.

  5. bunwhisper on December 14, 2006 at 12:02 am said:

    While Tower didn’t figure in my youth (I grew up in Cleveland–we had Peaches Records, which was similar) I related to the feelings of that writer.

    I wont find a priceless Beatles Christmas flexi-disc stuck in a magazine at the iTunes Store. Nor a rare white vinyl pressing of Let It Be. I wont find bootlegs either. My God, what would the RIAA say about THOSE?

    I used to frequent a bunch of record stores in a hippie-ish area in Cleveland Heights that smelled like patchouli and sold bongs, black light posters and revolutionary bumper stickers, right along with the records. Like the author remembers, it always seemed like the cops would show up at some point, and either bust the owner for the bootlegs, the bongs or the drugs which were likely being done in the backroom. Which of course added to the appeal!

    I spent hours of my life going through the used albums, and scored some great stuff. I still have them all! And then you took the records home and played them for the first time–while gazing at the album art, letting your mind be transported.

    I’m not a fogey that doesn’t do new technology–I just edited mp3 ringtones for my cell phone tonight. But it doesnt’ make me miss the whole multisensory experience of record albums and record stores any less. I havent shopped at one in years-Tower seemed way too generic, Best Buy is a music lover’s nightmare. But when I go back to Ohio (like Chrissie Hynde) I *always* visit my favorite record store and buy me some bootlegs :)

  6. We didn’t get Tower Records here in the Detroit are until the early 1990s, but whenever I visited London during the 1980s, I always went to the huge Tower store in Piccadilly Circus. It was open until midnight and was always lit up like a Christmas tree. I’d buy obscure T-shirts I’d never be able to find in the US and spend hours browsing through all their music magazines. The clerks all had brightly colored dreads and various facial piercings and seemed too hip for human comprehension.

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