Record Regret

After lunch on Sunday we walked to the next street corner where we found a record store.

As in vinyl.

As in albumins.

As in “Big CDs”, which was the term I used when trying to explain to my two boys what record albums were, way back in the late 90’s and before they became interested in vinyl themselves.

These days, all three of us are suckers for a cool record store. (Jim’s lukewarm about it but will absolutely spend some time happily browsing if you ask him to.) We’ve all spent time with my sister on Record Store Day, tracking down colored vinyl or special releases or other treasures. D has a wall full of professionally framed record albums and although he spent more money than he needed to on framing vinyl while he was still a college student, his apartment looks damn good and he will carry those with him no matter where he lives for years to come. My plan is to frame some of my favorites someday, perhaps for one of my offices. Anyway, the hunt can be pretty thrilling, especially when it ends with the discovery of old, err, I mean VINTAGE treasures.

Exhibit A: Back in high school I used to collect those little circular band buttons (pins) that were readily available on the check-out counter of record stores. I still have them: Berlin, Duran Duran, Adam Ant, and many others. When I was in Tennessee last month I hit up my favorite record store from the 80’s, which is still completely in business although most of the vinyl has been replaced by more updated media. Still, after a few minutes of digging I found this awesome, vintage Prince button from the Purple Rain days.

Prince Purple Rain

You never know what you’re going to find or what memories you’ll conjure up, which is part of the excitement. At the record store on Sunday, I flipped through the stacks and found lots of things but not much of what I was looking for (Duran Duran, Adam Ant, Bon Jovi…). I DID find lots of what I wasn’t looking for (Beatles, ABBA, Bee Gees, and Beach Boys). Sigh.

I went into the back of the store and discovered their rack full of 45 rpm records.

45 rpms

Now THERE were some memories. Guess which one of these records I do NOT (still) currently own?

45 rpm collage

Something made me return to the racks in front and recheck for Berlin, and suddenly I had this in my hands and as I read it, I laughed. Excellent marketing.

Berlin 12 inches of sex

Berlin’s “Sex (I’m A…)” was raunchy and controversial. Their live performance of it at the 1983 US Festival was somewhat legendary, and it has been one of my favorite songs…since the age of fourteen.

Note: I turned out just fine, by the way, so all of you parents worried about your youngsters and music lyrics? IT’S OKAY.

Finding this record made me really happy. It was hilarious, it was a 12-inch album that was meant to be played at 45 rpm, and for a second I considered buying it until I thought about how something like that wouldn’t really look good in a frame on the wall. I took a picture and put the record back. And then I grabbed it again, because who cares if it doesn’t have pretty album cover art? And then I put it back again. Rinse and repeat.

I walked out of the store without that record and regretted it almost immediately.

Guess where I’m headed next time I visit my son at his school, right after I hug him hello?
I have a feeling it’ll still be there, waiting for me.


  • Danielle Barnsley-Cervo

    The first rule of record collecting is NEVER WALK AWAY FROM A FIND. Melisa! I say that as a woman who has let too many go because, “I’ll come back later”. I have many sads about the lost records. Many.

    But, in all seriousness, I love vinyl stores. There’s this one downtown in the city near me, and it’s HUGE. They rotate the stock on a weekly basis, and the prices are decent. I have spent hours poking through all of the titles, because you just never know what you might find.

    • Melisa Wells

      I know, I know. Totally regret it. Don’t want to ask my 19yo son to go get me that particular record because AWKWARD. I’ll take my chances. 🙂

    • Melisa Wells

      My uncle just gave me his old record player. Dying to try it to see if it really still works as he says it does but worried about sound disappointment.

  • daniel

    I love 12 inches – I have been thinking of a Music Monday post that is more of an ode to a record store I used to go to where I picked up a lot of 12 inch singles back in the 80s. I don’t go record shopping much any more because I always find stuff and I have a very hard time not buying it when I do.