Sometimes we keep records forever, not because they’re awesome, but because they’re special.
For example, the first one you ever owned, or the first one you ever bought with your own money. In my case that’s Zenyatta Mondatta (1980) by The Police. I used birthday money and got it from the Woolworths in downtown Pembroke, Ont. after hearing it at my cousin’s house.
I still have that copy — as well as a much-better-cared-for one to which I’m not afraid to subject my Linn.
But, it’s not always a record store or even a department store where we come across special finds.
One thing about me is I’m ADHD and I have a photographic memory. I pretty much remember where I bought every one of my 2,000 albums. Some of them came from some weird and wacky places.
Just two doors down from my best friend’s house was a Becker’s store. Normally, the place to go for slush, but they also had a bin of albums near the door. I got a copy of Elton John’s weary A Single Man there — a picture disc pressing, no less. I wasn’t the only person I know who snagged a gooder there. My pal says he got 2XS by Nazareth from that same Becker’s bin, if that counts as a gooder (it doesn’t).
These days it seems weird to see a CD at Starbucks, so I posted about this on my Facebook wall. Lo and behold, I got some amazing anecdotes from people about the non-conventional places they bought records. It seems convenience store chains aren’t terribly uncommon.
“Oddly enough,” my friend Andrew writes, “the Mac’s Milk was a short walk from either Fellowes or Bishop Smith high schools. I think I bought my first Yes record there (hated it), but bought many others that I bet I still have. Also, pretty sure I bought that eponymous ’80s gem Asia at Mac’s Milk, along with a pizza sub and Mountain Dew.”
My buddy Dave wrote “Off topic but not without irony. I bought a Black Sabbath album at a fundraiser sale in the basement at St. Columbkille’s Cathedral.” That’s a big Catholic church in Pembroke, Ont.
My pal Rob scored a pair where they filmed the moon landing. “At 16 in 1978 while working at my uncle’s farm north of Sudbury for the summer, I bought Aja, Even in the Quietest Moments and Led Zeppelin IV at a drugstore in Hanmer.”
My friend Eric didn’t expect to buy an Amy Winehouse record when he went into a Winners store. Just like a friend from Cub Scouts, Al, who probably didn’t expect he’d be buying a copy of Van Halen III from the bed & breakfast he stayed at in Quebec.
Andrew, one of my co-workers, got a classic while clothes shopping: “Marks Work Warehouse (it was a giveaway) — Bowie album with a pair of jeans.”
Must have been a genie.
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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check out him out on Discogs.