JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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• The ghost of Tower Records. In the flesh.

Catherine, the babies and I are all in Virginia Beach, VA, for the summer and the weather here is similar to what you might find inside the containment of a nuclear reactor during a meltdown, sans the radiation, so yesterday, as we were thinking about where to go for a walk, we opted for a mall. Pretty suburban, I know. After surviving a brief exposure to the elements as we walked from the parking garage to the mall, we opened the doors pushed the stroller into a wash of cool air. Our one errand was to go the Gap and make a return, and after that I got a hankering for an ice cream, so we headed upstairs to the food court. On leaving the elevator, I stopped dead in my tracks, for there before me as a music store, complete with CDs, DVDs and more.

I entered reverently, a little timidly, was it real? It was and soon as was doing what I once did so often up until I was about 37 or 38, whenever Virgin finally closed in SF, I walked the aisles aimlessly. I picked up stuff by Judas Priest, Kiss, Moterhead, the Stones, Iggy, Bon Iver and within minutes I was ready to spend about $100. But I am on a STRICT budget these days, so everything went back into the bins. Ah, the bins, stretching on and on and just begging for my fingers to flip through their contents. Browsing in a real, live record store is so much better than browsing online. No, you can’t listen to anything, but you can get ideas, you’re reminded of bands you once loved, songs you intended to buy but never did, who’s hot and who’s not. I confess, I used to have a love hate relationship with record stores, and still kind of do. My beef was that you could not listen to anything and god forbid you might try to return something because IT SUCKED. Regardless, my experience yesterday left me with no doubt that the world is a poorer place without record stores. I also have to admit, it would be a way bigger thrill to enter a store ad see my upcoming CD on display that it will be to see it on iTunes. Just ain’t the same.