you can’t buy music at chase bank
January 4, 2013 in columns
If you’re a music fan and live in Seattle or even if you just occasionally visit the Seattle area, the news that came out of Easy Street Records on Wednesday is going to sting. It was with a heavy heart that they announced the closure of their Lower Queen Anne store, on January 21st it will become… Chase Bank, which stings even more.
On January 21st the corner of 1st Avenue and Mercer Street will be something totally uncool for the first time in as long as I can remember. When my brother and I were kids it was a Tower books and after Thunderbird games, while waiting for our parents to pick us up, we would mosey across the street and fork over our hard earned cash for… basically whatever. When the Tower empire came crashing down into a pile of rubble, from the ashes arose Easy Street Records.
It was the second store for Easy Street, their first being the iconic West Seattle store on California Avenue. I can’t think of a more perfect time for that store to be introduced into the area, it badly needed a record store, Easy Street delivered. I rarely ever found myself in the shadow of the Space Needle without at least popping in to see what was new. It literally breaks my heart to know that next time I’m down there it will be nothing but a fucking bank.
A few years back I worked for Borders Bookstore in Los Angeles, and it was announced that they would be reducing the variety of shelf stock in favor of greater volumes of mostly bestsellers. I immediately noted that this was a critical error and to this day believe that it was instrumental in the demise of Borders. In today’s world any music or book you could ever want is essentially at your finger tips through the information superhighway. So when someone chooses to go to a brick and mortar store, they do so because they are looking for something they aren’t going to get in itunes or Amazon.
Instant gratification, impulse buys, and community. There is something to browsing the shelves of a record store, thumbing through records and cd’s you’d never heard of before, talking to the cashier about your purchase, and taking it home that day. Likewise, your favorite artists don’t visit itunes to play a free live concert for you. In the past twelve years the Queen Anne Easy Street, did all these things including a plethora of free in store performances.
The Lower Queen Anne neighborhood needed Easy Street twelve years ago, and though they’re retreating back to West Seattle, LQA still needs them today. Their departure could very well have a domino effect on other similar businesses in that area, wonderful independent shops and restaurants replaced by Appleby’s, a Papersource, and a row of overpriced condominiums. The sense of community prospected, pumped, and purchased by the evil corporate juggernaut.
Though my first thought was my own selfish sadness at the loss of a local treasure, my next thought went to the many local artists who sell their music there, many of them past Secretly-Important guests. These independent artists who physically take arm loads of their records and sell them in store will feel this loss most of all. While the West Seattle store will continue to stay open for many years to come (they just signed a 15 year lease) the diversity of locations will be absent, and ultimately this is yet another store that won’t be selling hand delivered copies of Lemolo’s Kaleidoscope or Deep Sea Diver’s History Speaks.
How much more community can you get? Artists who live and work in the area, selling their album to music fans who also live and work in the area. That it is being replaced by Chase Bank, the antithesis of community, is the most disappointing aspect of this whole situation.
Back in 2004 just a day after moving into my very first apartment, my car was broken into and fifty of my favorite cd’s were stolen. I owe a big thanks to Easy Street for helping me rebuild my collection one album at a time.
I know that really the closure of the LQA Easy Street is akin to selling your summer house and moving all the stuff you kept there to your winter house, but there are still some wonderful memories associated there, and I’m saddened that I won’t be able to browse the record albums with my daughter in a couple years, god knows she may never know the experience of browsing record store shelves.
It’s been said many times over, but: Buy local, support your neighborhood record store.
In honor of 12 years of Easy Street in Lower Queen Anne, here are my top five finds from that store over the years.
- Spalding Gray ~ Monster in a Box/Terrors of Pleasure
- Some Velvet Sidewalk ~ Avalanche
- Christmas ~ Namiot
- Chain and the Gang ~ Down with Liberty Up with Chains
- Charles Mingus ~ The Clown