For the record

Posted By on August 31, 2007

My last blog was about Shelly Tirk, the record guy who died in mid-August. Shelly’s passing made me think of the passing of the record industry, as I and my contemporaries know it. Music used to mean record stores where people of a similar mindset might congregate to find out about what was hot, what was cool, what was worth listening to.

I don’t know of many record stores anymore. In greater Cleveland, My Generation is long gone. Wax Stacks is longer gone. I haven’t been to Time Traveler yet, but I’ll go. I do go to Record Den sometimes, because I’m sure to come across the latest versions of geezer rock there, along with cool imports. But Record Den is basically the only area store I personally know of still going strong.

At least that was all I knew of until the last week of August, when I stopped into Music Saves, just up the street from the Beachland Ballroom in North Collinwood. Music Saves is one fairly large room. It’s about 70 percent CDs, 30 percent vinyl; most of the stock is new, including the vinyl, though there’s some used and even some bargain (the vintage vinyl includes some highly collectible 45s; sorry, no eight tracks or cassettes).

I was meeting my wife for dinner at the Grovewood Tavern and had about 45 minutes to kill. I was alone in Music Saves except for this much younger woman at the cash register. Glasses, nose ring, hennaed hair, minding her own business. I’m going through the bins and coming across a lot of stuff I’d heard of but hadn’t heard. I asked the woman if she had a local section. She said yes, steering me to two bins plus part of a third.

So I’m going through these and I realize I knew one band out of what must have been a hundred locals. I was shocked; the only band I recognized was Gem, a project of former Cobra Verde/sometimes Guided by Voices guitarist Doug Gillard’s. Otherwise, I was clueless. I told the woman I was amazed that I was so unfamiliar with the local scene, particularly since I used to cover it. That conversation was how I met Melanie Hershberger, owner of Music Saves. That’s also how I learned a lot about new music and ended up buying four CDs: One by Feist (great), one by Broken Social Scene (cooler conceptually than musically), one by St. Vincent (brilliant pop here) and one by Machine Go Boom, a Cleveland band with lots of range and chutzpah.

What was even cooler than the music was that I’d discovered a real record store. My kids don’t know from vinyl, never saw an eight track or cassette and couldn’t care less about CDs. They’re downloaders all the way. Me, I’m still into the tangible, and I know that even if I sell my bloated CD collection, there’s a lot about it that I’ll miss.

The existence of Music Saves-Melanie tells me business is good, and judging by her tasteful, selective inventory, it is-is reassuring to me. It means that no matter my age, record stores will survive, keeping music-and, hopefully, me-current. It also means that even though the formats are changing more rapidly than ever, music can still mean community.


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About the author

I'm a veteran critic and business writer who reads and listens and writes about music, books, hotels and travel. I've been in the business for many years and still enjoy it. My pride and joy is my book, Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories. Follow me on Twitter: