I Took a Walk on the Wild Side

My first record story is a little bit embarrassing.

I was 20, still lived in a small town, but had just started my freshman year at GRCC. Grand Rapids was exciting to me–i’d seen local bands play in basements and hole-in-the-wall all-ages venues, and I only wished to delve deeper into the world of music, one which didn’t exist back home. There were no record stores where I came from, and the closest thing to anything music related was a an old bandshell that was in desperate need of repair, hidden away in the corner of a local park.

One day after class, I drove down Fulton Avenue farther than i’ve ever traveled before, searching the local businesses for job openings. I parked in front of The Beat Goes On (now famously known as the record store that refused to really go out of business), a little record store that was painted neon green. I took a step inside. It was tiny, it smelled weird, and the clerk behind the desk seemed comfortable in his record-store-nerd stereotype. What light that peakedĀ  through the dark shades from the windows made the air look dusty and dim.

Of course the romantic in me thought of how awesome it would be to work at the record store–I could be that cool girl behind the counter that gives people advice about music and get paid for it!

I stood among the stacks of music, deciding what to do. “Of course this guy will assume I just came in here to ask for a job–he’ll probably think i’m a regular nobody off the street. I need to show him that I LOVE music–that i’m just as knowledgeable as he is!*

I hatched a plan. Why I thought walking up to the counter and asking for a application was the worst way I could go about this, I don’t know. I decided that I was going to find the coolest album by the most respectable musician that they had, casually bring it up to the counter, and while he rang it up, i’d nonchalantly inquire about a job.

I searched around, eventually deciding that Lou Reed’sĀ Walk on the Wild Side: Best of Lou Reed was the most distinguished album they had (after looking around some more, I realized they had a lot of crappy dollar-bin type records that nobody ever wanted–maybe this wasn’t the best place to work after all…). I brought it up to the counter and….I chickened out.

I bought the record and then I drove home. I wouldn’t work at that place because I was too chicken to ask, but after looking through their lot, I was kind of ok with that.

The point of this story is that this record has become a story in itself to me now, the first record I ever bought. I’ll never give it away, i’ll never sell it, but I will continue to listen to it on full volume with the windows open on a sweaty summer day.


*definitely not true.


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