Entry 0011: A Return to the Beginning


LP: Future Days by Can

2014 Spoon Records XSPOON9, Mute 9385-1

Favorite Track: Moonshake


Papa Jazz Record Shoppe can be found at 2014 Greene Street next to a Pita Pit and a Korean restaurant. It is located on a side street of the college shopping and nightlife area known as 5-Points, the city’s oldest shopping district and site of the first supermarket in Columbia, South Carolina. Restaurants, bars, and shopping boutiques fill the other store fronts along Harden Street. There are a few puddles remaining from the morning shower and people step around them in a holiday rush as they enter and leave stores with more bags in their hands. Things have not changed much since this small strip of land was one of my stomping grounds. The buildings still look like they could use a wash and a new coat of paint. Some of the store signs need repaired. The Irish tavern is still there, but it looked like the dive bar I first stopped to have a drink as a new Gamecock is for sale. I am here just for Papa Jazz, a return to the beginning of an obsession, a key location in the development of my musical tastes, but also my life.

A future entry will further expound on my reasons for record collecting. My first post (https://storiesonrecords.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/entry-0001-first-record-purchase/) made a comedy of an impulsive shopping purchase and flirtation attempt. But it was in May of 2006 when I first entered Papa Jazz that my record collecting started. I was immediately drawn to the store for a couple of reasons. First, you could walk right past it without seeing it. The brick facade is covered in torn flyers and poster remnants. The door easily could lead into a garage or auto repair shop. The signage is attractive but not imposing. Papa Jazz does not need to tell people where it is at; people know. Second, the name is perfect. If you are picturing a large room with record crates crammed between bookshelves full of CDs and DVDs, a variety of knick knacks lying around, and a man with grey ponytail in comfortable clothes, a professor of the cool before you even knew what that word meant, deciding which more esoteric record to put on the stereo then congratulations, you have correctly perceived Papa Jazz. The New Arrival crates sit by the cash register and there are plenty of others to dig through scattered around the perimeter of the store. I remember quite a few of my record scores throughout the years including my first at Papa Jazz, the first official record store experience I had.

I had grabbed Monster by Herbie Hancock because I was really into Speak Like A Child at the time as well as a Charlie Parker on dial LP, Billie Holliday’s All or Nothing at All, and Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis. I thought that was all I was going to buy, but I decided to hunt through the rock LPs just to see what was there. This decision radically changed my direction of record collecting. I was originally going to have a modest jazz collection. Music I could enjoy while cooking dinner or have wine nights with friends or writing music. When I found London Calling by the Clash and Horses by Patti Smith, I just added them to the pile and kept looking. But the gears in my brain were shifting. They were rewinding. Punk rock was the first time I found music that really spoke to me. It made sense for me to collect it. I didn’t also realize at the time how much the cover art was speaking and influencing me. When I got home, I put on some jazz on my new record player I had ordered online and sat on my bed. Everything was good, but Horses was great. Horses changed everything. And I couldn’t stop staring at Patti Smith in her white button up, jacket casually thrown over her shoulder, hair a bit untamed.

Today, as I walked into the shop, I remembered that first time. And how every time I walk into a record store it is the same thrill. Uncertainty. Atmosphere. Luck? What will I walk away with today or will I walk away with anything at all? Today, as I searched through the crates, I felt eight years younger. I asked myself: if today was my first day buying records, would it be the same? Would I become as obsessed as I did? I found a lot of albums I already have in my collection, but if it was my first time I would have bought. For a second, I considered buying them again so this imaginary recordless me could have the same thrill I had eight years. Yes, if today has been my first time, I would have been obsessed. Papa Jazz takes great care and pride to award dreams of music lovers.

I bought the re-issued, re-mastered Future Days by Can. The owner asked me how I was and said the store was doing great. I am proud to support it. I highly recommend if you are in the area to check it out. Or take a vacation to Charleston or Hilton Head and stop in on your way. Or check out their website at http://www.papajazz.com.

Record sales may continue to be going up, however, the majority of people buy them on Amazon or at Urban Outfitters. Let us save our small independent stores like Papa Jazz. They make record collecting worth it.



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