Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Aaaand another one gone and another one gone, another one bites the dust.

So, HMV is about to be no more. The biggest of all the high street music retailers, joins Tower, Our Price and even Woolworths as it finally falls to the floor, beaten to a bloody, pulpy death by the piracy revolution, and the lure of mp3s, Mr owneverything apple and it's iTune store, Amazon and it's track for 10p, have they killed the disc? After all, no one really wants a bulky piece of anything anymore. Some people tried to whip up a retro love for the 7" vinyl single a while back and grainy photographs of old Dansette record players adorn Facebook's reminiscent groups, but really - who wants to make space for them, or worse, for the hardware that takes up more than say, 4" these days? Who wants to have a shelf full of - well, full of anything? The Kindle says - no more books. The mp3 player says - no more CDs. 

No more arguments about the arrangement of CDs - should they be sorted alphabetically by artist or album title? Or genre? (answer; alphabetically, by artist. Last name only.)  No more inviting in ones latest limerent fancy and watching with bated breath as he or she casts a surreptitious eye over your music of choice, wishing you'd put the Best of The Carpenters in back to front, and left Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures askew by the player, casually of course, not deliberately placed for that justontheoffchanceheshemaycomebacktonight. 

Mind you, neither will there be the saddest cardboard boxes in the world sat by the front door as your ex leaves with half your collection, insisting that he/she bought that TalkTalk import album (thanks David, actually, *I* bought that. I bet you still have it, you arse).  

Books have gone the same way - no more "Anna Karenina" left artfully abandoned on the bedside table. A leatherbound kindle doesn't have the same look of studious intelligence, the same smell, or the same fallingopenatafavouritepassage way about it. No one can point at your copy of "Andy Kaufman - Revealed!" on your kindle, and flicking through it, casually ask "Can I borrow this?" thus prompting a joyful realisation that this person wishes to return to you (Or, steal the book). No, you can't borrow my ebooks. Not unless you register your own as Pesk's 4th Kindle, and send it, whizzing through the ether in a maze of vowel and consonant to your own ereader. 


The first single I bought, was Spacer's Magic Fly. I'd had 7" singles gifted to me throughout my childhood from my fabulous Uncle Robin (R.I.P) - the opening bars of T. Rex's "Ride a White Swan thrill me to this day, the last he passed to me was The Knack's "My Sharona". And Aunty Belinda and I used to loll on the floor at Grandma's house with her collection of KTel soundalike albums, picking up the needle and moving it back onto Pilot's "January" over and over again, rattling and creasing our copies of Popswop and fab 208, going over and over the lyrics until we were word (if not tone) perfect. 

The first album I bought was Jean Michel Jarre's Oxygene. How I loved that album, played it to death before I moved away from electronica and towards punk. I loved the sleeve (there's another thing - no more cover art - on anything!) and would lay on the floor listening again and again, the swirling music promising something a million miles away from my green bobbly bedroom carpet that gave me static shocks as I slid across it in my popsocks and the neighbour who loved to listen to Errol Brown inbetween shouting at her brother. Jean Michel Jarre was romance, was brilliance, was bloody FRENCH.  I bet he didn't have a neighbour called Shazza either.

Last week, my daughter's boyfriend bought me the album again, new, wrapped in cellophane, the greens and blues of the cardboard cover - oh! The beauty, the memories.  It sits now on my bedroom BOOKshelf, where I can see (if not play) it. He bought it from HMV.

As the kid that bought the original, I didn't have access an HMV, a Tower Records, an Our Price. I just had Woolworths for singles, and a locally owned shop called Herrick Watson's. They also sold posters, TVs and stereos. There was the dad, all serious and slightly mysterious with his grey hair and stern face, and his son and daughter working the music section with their cool hip BestJobInTheWorld faces on. The shop is still there, but I can't help thinking it won't be for long.

Shame that.