Thank you for the music (store)
Hello to all my minions and my hellions! I recently sat down and read some of my past columns and realized something I do a lot: Bitch about how the times they are a-changing, and how much better things used to be. I guess it’s proof I am getting old, cuz guess what? I am doing it again.
Remember music stores? You young people won’t know what I am talking about, but there used to be these brick and mortar buildings that only sold music, i.e., records, cassettes, then CDs. I miss them so much. Sound Warehouse, Tower Records, Oak Lawn Records were all my home away from home. Damn Internet ruins everything. The kids of today will never know the joy of shopping and searching through bins of music and finding that song by that artist you loved. New music always came out on Tuesdays, and for certain artists, I would be at the store when they opened.
I remember my first boyfriend took me to Sound Warehouse on one of our first dates to buy me Mariah Carey’s Emotions (on cassette and CD!). I always bought both because I had a cassette player in the car and a CD player at home. It was so romantic. He was excited, too. He bought Guns N Roses’ Use Your Illusion Vol. 1. Yes, our musical tastes were very different. The only artists we both liked were Michael Jackson and Garth Brooks. The relationship was doomed. He had a nice weenie but I could not get past his heavy metal fakeness. Oh, the things you think are important at 19 seem so ridiculous when you are … ahem … older.
Sound Warehouse begat Wherehouse Music. Wherehouse Music begat Blockbuster Music. Blockbuster Music begat foreclosure. C’est la vie. It’s the circle of life, or some bullshit.
Some of the best memories of my youth involved going to music stores. I remember my best friend’s dad telling us if we did all of the lawn work, he would take us to our local music store, which in our case, was miles away near Town East Mall in Mesquite. We mowed that lawn with enthusiasm, excited at the prospect of getting the new Debbie Gibson or INXS album. I was such a weirdo, I bought the soundtrack to the movie Once Bitten, a cheesy vampire comedy starring Jim Carrey. That damn cassette was one of my prized possessions. The music was awful, even by ’80s standards, but I loved it.
On another trip, I found the soundtrack to the musical The Pirate Movie starring Kristy McNichol and the adorably sexy Christopher Atkins (looking back, I think he may have been one of my first crushes). I would drag out to every single one of those songs. Then there was one of my favorites, the Grease 2 soundtrack. “Cool Rider” was one of my very first drag songs. I want a C-O-O-L- R-I-D-E-R! These were all cassettes I didn’t even know I needed until I found them in a rack at a music store.
Not all of my music shopping memories are good. When I was just a little twink — back then we were called chickens — there was an independent music store that shall remain nameless. It was run by an old chicken hawk, and none of the records, tapes or CDs had prices on them. You had to ask said chicken hawk how much the thing you wanted cost. If you were a younger cute boy, you tended to get things cheaper. For years, I would bat my eyes and flirt and get things at a discount.
One day, I traveled north to this music store to find a copy of The Groove Won’t Bite by Uncanny Alliance. My copy was stolen by a shady bitch at a show in Fort Worth at the Magnolia Station. Anyhoo, I walked into the store, sashayed around until I found it. I was so excited. When I asked the owner how much, he looked me over and said, “Gimme $14.99 for it.” Well, $14.99 was about five dollars more than I had ever paid for anything there before, but I was just thankful they had it. My mistake was letting him know how hard it was to find that particular CD and showing my excitement in finding it. He then said, “I meant to say it costs $29.99.” I was like, “No queen — you cannot jack the price up just because you know how badly I want it.” He said with a stank face, “Yes I can, if you want it it’s $29.99!” Well, I had a bit of a freak out. I proceeded to call him ever name in the book. I told him if I couldn’t have the CD, no one could, and I threw it across the store hoping it would smash and break against the wall. Instead it just fell behind a row of imports. He told me he was calling the cops and I had better get my ass out of there. I did as I was told, but not before my middle finger cramped up from being over used. Not my finest moment. I guess that was the day I realized I was no longer a P.Y.T! I was just a P.T.
A few weeks later, a friend called me and said my picture was up at that music store, over the register with the word BANNED in red letters across the top. I was like, “Oh, bitch, I’m famous!” I had to see it for myself. So my partner-in-crime Robbie and I went on an adventure. First stop was to the costume shop where we bought a fake mustache and a pair of Buddy Holly glasses. I donned my flawless disguise and we headed to the scene of the crime. I am sure I was fooling no one with my arched eyebrows and my glued on porn ’stache. I was so nervous I was shaking, but it worked. I saw the horrible picture of me and no one gave me a second glance. I made sure I stayed away from the asshat owner. At one point, Robbie looked at me laughing and pointed to my upper lip. Apparently, the left side of my mustache had come unglued and was flapping around. I felt like I was in an episode of I Love Lucy. I panicked and ran for the car. When Robbie came out of the store, he had the CD I had tried to destroy. He paid $14.99 for it.
I ended up working at Wherehouse Music for four years until it was bought out by Blockbuster Music and worked there for two years more. I was working there happily when the Internet brutally murdered my longtime companion: the music store. I miss you my friend. I miss your midnight sales on new music. I miss your discount bins. I miss your free gifts with purchase. I miss the way the cellophane from a newly opened CD would stick to your clothes. I miss having my entire home decorated with CD racks, crates with albums and shelves of cassettes. I even miss how difficult it was to open a CD without a CD opener. Fond memories I will cherish forever.
Now days all your music is just a click away, super easy but not nearly as fun. Technology has robbed me of one of my favorite pastimes: cruising boys at the music store.
I’m sorry I didn’t get to answer any of your questions this week, but I promise I will be back on track next time. If you have any ideas about things I should discuss or stories I should tell, let me know. Sometimes the most random things can spark my creative juices and inspire me. Send me a line or a thought of what you would like to hear about. Drag queen fact or fiction, it all runs together.
Remember to love more, bitch less and be fabulous. XOXO, Cassie Nova
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 12, 2015.