Generation X (b. 1961-81) may very well be the last generation to remember buying licorice pizza and frequenting the record store; the last to relate to the disaster of being one who lived in rural Kansas, 75 miles from the nearest store that carried the needle for your record player.
Ahhh, the disappearing record store. It’s already gone. When I write about this, I suddenly feel like my Silent Generation father pining for the corner drug store and the soda jerks who once served up strawberry ice cream sodas.
In 1999, I decided to take a solo road trip to Red Cloud, Nebraska, the home of one of my favorite American writers, Willa Cather. Following my visit, I headed to Omaha, because it was the home of the Wizard of Oz, and I thought maybe I should check it out.
There was this really cool record store in downtown Omaha, and its name was so clever, I swore I’d never forget it, but I did forget it. Now, it’s driving me crazy because record stores aren’t just disappearing from my memory, they’re disappearing from my life. I still remember Round Licorice, which I discovered during the summer of 1984 while visiting my brother in Los Angeles.
And, of course, I remember Oklahoma City’s Rainbow Records, which I frequented in the 80s and 90s. Maybe if there’d been a Facebook campaign when it closed up shop, we could have saved it, but probably not. Still, that’s what a Louisville group is trying to do. They’re trying to save ear X-tacy, an iconic record store beloved by Generation X Kentuckians.
In an article in the Louisville Courier by David Daley (who sometimes wishes it was still 1986), record stores are all but disappearing. If an angel steps up to fund them, they might be saved, otherwise, it appears they’re going the way of the smalltown newspaper.
Disappearing Record Store: Rainbow Records
I wrote about Rainbow Records some months back. I’m sad to report that nothing has changed. The broken-down vacuum cleaners still clutter the windows of the historic building at NW 23rd and Classen. The eyesore is worsened by the fact it bookends ongoing private development in the Asian District. In addition, the City has spent so much money streetscaping the district. Can’t somebody do something about all the junk in the window? Please?
But, what’s most disturbing is that the building that once housed Rainbow Records is just a cash-cow for the owner because it holds an impressive billboard space, consistently bought-up by Oklahoma City University. I wish every business in town would ban that billboard until the owner hangs some curtains in the window.
Maybe an Oklahoma City developer will take their footprint a little further west and buy the building. Even if they do, however, I don’t think the Record Store is ever coming back. Of course, you never know what might happen. Someone once lamented that video killed the radio star, but last time I checked, radio was bigger than ever, and MTV was no longer MTV. Sometimes, I wish it was 1986.
In 2008, Paste Magazine named the 17 coolest record stores in the U.S. Ear X-tacy was on that list. Check it out.
Did you ever have a favorite record store?