HOW I STOLE THE MUSIC BUSINESS By Alex Walsh

pac manIt was 1980.

I was 13 and spending all my money on records. There were four record stores in walking distance from my house. A Rasputin Records that smelled like old cardboard, lacquer, cigarettes and pot, a bright and shiny Rainbow Records with the latest hits on display, and a couple of record stores in the Sun Valley Mall that I can’t remember. They all sold records and cassettes and 8 track tapes.

PopMuzik45imageAnd 45s.

Yes, I bought 45s – “Pop Muzic”, “My Sharona”, “Cars”… I was hooked!

In Through The Out DoorAround the corner from my house there was a Radio Shack and I remember I’d go in and drool over the stereo equipment. They had a cassette deck with left and right microphone inputs and I was excited about the idea of making my own weird recordings. I soon got it for my birthday and did make weird recordings. I also hooked it up to my step-fathers big stereo and blasted In Through The Out Door. I was disappointed and surprised that there was a ton of hiss even with the Dolby on.

Soon my crafty teenage mind came up with the ultimate plan. I had just bought a Cheap Trick album (All Shook Up) and really didn’t like it. I don’t know why I bought it, I think I thought it would have “I Want You To Want Me” on it. But no. So I came up with the idea of holding the record over the stove long enough so it would heat up and warp. Record stores always said you could return them if there was a problem, right? So why not buy them, warp them, and then bring them back? I thought I was a genius.

warped recordThe first problem was figuring out how to warp the record so it looked like it melted during shipping. I had seen warped records before but when I put it over our gas stove and twisted it the vinyl was too soft and I used too much pressure and it looked overdone. Then I burned my fingers.

When I finally brought it back (with the receipt) I could tell the record store guy with the long hair and the Doobie Brothers mustache was suspicious. He put it on the turntable and it WAS obviously warped so there was nothing he could say even after a barrage of questions. When he finally said he could give me store credit I just stood there dumbly as waves of guilt washed over me. This was not fun. Why wasn’t this fun? Why did I feel this way?

In my teenage brain I decided that I hated that record store and I would never go back and it was their fault for making me do this because they charged too much. And I never did go back. Now I know it’s because I was ashamed and embarrassed but at the time it was their fault.

mccartney IISo what did I get with my store credit?

McCartney II of course. I kept that one.

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