Have you ever driven by a house you once lived in, perhaps a childhood home, and wanted to stop in and see how things are different?
I had the opportunity to do this every time I stepped into the Angelo’s CDs and More in Wheat Ridge. I worked in the store through college, and before that my mother owned the Budget Tapes and CDs at that same location for more than 20 years.
But now, after decades of businesses in the Applewood shopping center, the store is closing at the end of April.
I got the bad news during a recent Saturday visit to the store, and it knocked the wind out of me. It was like hearing the house you grew up in was going to be bulldozed.
Like Joni Mitchell once wrote, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
According to a handout given to shoppers, the store is closing because of an increase in rent prices in the shopping center, as well as required upgrades to the property that Angelo’s would have to pay for. Instead, the location is having a big closing sale all month, and employees will be going to the East Colfax and South Broadway locations.
With its closing, west Jefferson County loses its only significant independent music store. On West Colfax there is Chain Reaction records, which focuses on metal and punk albums, and on Wadsworth in Arvada there is Black and Read, but that store doesn’t just do music — it also sells books, games and movies. If you want to peruse the latest vinyl releases, check out local artists and get a new CD for your car, the options are now big box stores like Best Buy, Target and Barnes and Noble, or heading to downtown Denver.
In 2015, Colin Hanks (Tom Hank’s son) made a fantastic documentary called “All Things Must Pass,” about the rise and fall of the Tower Records chain. The film is overflowing with interviews with former Tower employees, and music luminaries like Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, Elton John and David Geffen. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about some of the things these people discussed since I found out the Wheat Ridge Angelo’s closing.
The shuttering of Tower, and other independent music shops, has been a slow but steady process since the advent of online shopping sites like Amazon, and digital music retailers like iTunes, Spotify and Pandora.
“How do you compete with that?” Geffen said in one of the film’s interviews. “You know, if you could get Coca-Cola for free from your faucet, you wouldn’t buy a bottle of Coca-Cola.”
I completely understand how the ease, accessibility and affordability makes these kinds of services appealing and, of course, I use them, just like everyone else. But I still go to the record store when I find something I love and need a physical copy of, or when I want recommendations.
Because even with all the algorithms and recommendations based on previous search histories, you can’t replace the people who truly, truly love music and want to share it with their customers.
“Those people knew their stuff. They were really on their ball. I mean, they just weren’t employees and they happened to work at music stores. They were devoted to music,” John said in the film. “It was inviting. It was like going to your favorite café.”
For years, I was one of those people, and I learned so much about music from the people I worked with and customers I helped. If it really is the little things in life that matter, it’s difficult to top the joy that comes with discovering a new song, album or band that moves you.
There’s nothing quite like it.
As Mitchell wrote in the aforementioned song, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone,” so be sure to celebrate and patronize businesses who provide these kinds of personal services while they’re around. There aren’t many music stores left, and believe me, we need them.
But don’t take it from me — The Boss knows you should, too.
“You know, everybody in a record store is a little bit of your friend for 20 minutes or so,” Springsteen said in the documentary. “There was that family aspect of a real record store.”
Clarke Reader’s column on how music connects to our lives appears every other week. A community editor with Colorado Community Media, he will miss the Wheat Ridge Angelo’s terribly. Check out his music blog at calmacil20.blogspot.com. And share why record stores are important to you at firstname.lastname@example.org.