In honor of record store day, I'm going to try and recite from memory every record store that I've frequented in the course of my 52 years. And remember, we're talking about a guy who owns about 1500 CDs and 1500 vinyl LPs.
- Tower Records, Watt Avenue, Sacramento. This was the first record store I ever set foot in. The one on Watt Avenue was very cool, because it had a neon sign that can best be described as a pulsating record. In the same strip mall (although I don't think they called them that, back then) was a Tower Books, with its own pulsating book. At one end of the mall was Country Club Lanes (still there), and at the other was a very cool restaurant (to a six-year old) called Sam's Hof Brau. It's still there, under a different name. When I was a kid, I would order a root beer in a big frosty mug that would have ice on the bottom.
I clearly remember accompanying my dad on visits to this store, where he would buy records by folks like Bobby Goldsboro, Dionne Warwick and Trini Lopez. Later on, when I was in my 20s and working as a waiter at a restaurant not far away, I spent a lot of time in the store, sometimes just to admire the new stacks of records that you had to wind your way through just to get to the record racks.
The other cool thing about the Watt Avenue store is that they had a glass-enclosed area for the classical music section.
- Record Factory, Greenback Lane. A chain that disappeared long ago, but for a long time, the closest record store to our house. I remember my dad driving me over to buy albums like Elton John's "Captain Fantastic," "Fleetwood Mac," and "Katy Lied" by Steely Dan.
- Tower Records, Sunrise Avenue. If memory serves, this one opened up in 1978. It started in a fairly nondescript shopping center, and among the albums I remember buying there were "Darkness on the Edge of Town," Next Year's Model," and "London Calling." In the early 80s it moved down the street a bit into its own building (which I believe it shared with a Tower Books), and that was where I bought my first CDs - one of which was "Born in the U.S.A."
- Recycled Records, Auburn Blvd. The first used record store I ever frequented, and where I bought my first Bruce Springsteen album - "Born to Run," in 1976.
- Tower Records, Broadway. Another very cool Tower store, that was the closest record store to the first apartment my wife and I lived in after we got married.
- Tower Records, Berkeley. One of my hangouts during my years at Cal. But not my favorite.
- Rasputin Records, Berkeley. This was the cool record store in Berkeley. This is where I bought favorites like Roxy Music's "Avalon" and "The Blasters."
Nowadays, I do almost all my shopping at Dimple Records, either at the Elk Grove or Broadway site. They're definitely a throwback to the good old days, and I hope they last. I'm sure I've left a few off the list above, but at the same time I'm pretty sure I hit all the key landmarks.
Go buy a record today.