An ode to my preferred N.J. record store, before it closes endlessly

Gisela Steep

1 of my favored spots on the earth sits in a strip mall off Route 1 in Woodbridge, ideal driving a stretch of large-rigidity towers and a handful of doors down from an off-observe betting parlor. Vintage Vinyl is among the the past of an at any time-shrinking breed: a […]

1 of my favored spots on the earth sits in a strip mall off Route 1 in Woodbridge, ideal driving a stretch of large-rigidity towers and a handful of doors down from an off-observe betting parlor.

Vintage Vinyl is among the the past of an at any time-shrinking breed: a spacious, eclectic, and engrossing independent history keep that for 42 years has been a mecca for tunes enthusiasts — men and women just like me.

So when I study the news Monday that my Central Jersey shop — a person of the state’s quite most effective music places — is closing July 31 for fantastic, my coronary heart sank. I virtually cried. A piece of my identity was dying.

Escalating up just a 30-moment generate away in East Brunswick, I spent countless hrs — and lots of a paycheck — there. It’s been a typical pilgrimage, having up large chunks of weekday nights and weekend afternoons, to broaden my musical vocabulary.

I’ve expended incalculable hours wandering all around Vintage Vinyl. (Star-Ledger file photograph)SL

You can not only explore a extensive array of new artists in the store’s selection but come across basically any album from each well-known artist of the past 60 a long time. I ordered documents there that taught me how Break up Enz is almost as fantastic as Squeeze, how Stevie Surprise could do no erroneous from 1972 to ’76, how it is extremely hard to tell if Neko Circumstance is much better solo or with the New Pornographers, how Robert Palmer was additional than modern films on MTV, how Kanye West’s next report (the 1 with strings) is seriously his ideal, how Fiona Apple never ever made a poor album, and how Leo Sayer is underrated. Early Leo Sayer, at the very least.

The store’s seemingly limitless assortment has been a feeding program for my 1,500 CDs and 300 LPs — the only place I can come across “Lincoln” by They Might Be Giants, the closing Dresden Dolls album, and outdated compilations by The Smiths with out obtaining to wade by way of eBay or wait on Amazon. (Certainly, I prefer CDs. They audio improved and are significantly less difficult and more visually attractive to catalogue on a shelving program. But I digress.)


I enjoy CDs, all right?! (Star-Ledger file picture) SL

However, as any audiophile will inform you, a great file retailer is not just a spot to get documents.

Vintage Vinyl is exactly where my equally music-adoring brother Brian and I bond by walking its rows and rows of information, poring over new releases by Arctic Monkeys and Dua Lipa and obscure titles by Mr. Bungle and Violent Femmes that we study about someplace. Our mates and classmates generally joined us during our time at Rutgers, with one particular fifty percent-severely buying us 45s by Taco and Howard Jones and one more sifting as a result of the store’s big large metal area.

It’s also exactly where Brian and I share a Christmas tradition. Every vacation period, we journey to Classic Vinyl to select out a CD we assume the other would like. That’s how he fell in love with Roxy Music and I St. Vincent.

Then there is the time I used two hrs ready in the rain to nab an Elvis Costello EP on Record Shop Day in 2019. The line snaked around the back of the strip shopping mall.

On its very best nights, the store is reworked into a are living music venue, with nationwide functions like My Chemical Romance, Julien Baker, and Queens of the Stone Age showing up on its little stage, actively playing for eager enthusiasts charmingly tucked in between the aisles of CD bins in the center of the principal flooring.

There, I have gotten to see and satisfy each Sean Lennon and Dhani Harrison, the incredibly proficient sons of two previous Beatles. I watched Fastball conduct intimate acoustic renditions of two of the most underneath-appreciated pop-rock hits of the 1990s: “The Way” and ”Out of My Head.” And Chris Cornell autographed my report not long prior to he died.

My wife Lindsay and I even went there on just one of our very first dates, for a CD signing by Garry Tallent, the bassist in the E Street Band. An Edison native, Lindsay applied to repeated Classic Vinyl with her father when she was a child, to discover information by Depeche Mode and CD imports of her beloved Backstreet Boys. I realized quickly I wanted to marry her.

It is also wherever Lindsay and I observed our final concert in advance of the coronavirus pandemic — packed a tiny awkwardly among the the substantially-younger indie young children to see New Jersey’s Pinegrove.

Moreover, Vintage Vinyl vehemently supports artists in Jersey’s fervent regional tunes scene by providing their work and letting them to slap their stickers and gig posters in close proximity to the entrance. Appear at the bottom of the front doorway, and you’ll see a decal from my band, The Clydes.

I’m 37. That signifies I arrive from an in-between era — more mature millennials who are snug with both of those a Walkman and an Iphone. Certainly, I have many songs downloaded on my mobile phone. Certainly, I like that I can obtain any songs I want with a small trip to YouTube.

But for me, the world wide web is not plenty of. No afternoon on Spotify is pretty as gratifying as getting in a report retailer, spending a lazy hour deciding upon which tunes to provide household, evaluating album covers like items of art, thinking what catchy piece of artwork-pop the clerk is playing about the loud speaker.

A great report retail outlet is like a baseball stadium, a communal put for men and women to knowledge some thing lovely in particular person.


Goodbye, Classic Vinyl. (Star-Ledger file picture) SL

Vintage Vinyl proprietor Rob Roth, 65, stated he’s closing the store simply because it is “time to retire” and he would like to devote time with his little ones and grandchildren. I get that totally.

And we’ve sadly gotten utilised to seeing wonderful tunes retailers across the U.S. shutter in the past decade.

But I’m continue to beside myself realizing my most loved is leaving, being aware of I’ll have to travel a very little farther to purchase audio you can’t get at Concentrate on, understanding my new child daughter Everly — indeed, named after the well known brothers — will not get to expand up with that wonderful location like I did.

I prepare to just take her there in advance of it closes permanently up coming month, just so I can notify her she frequented a person of our state’s finest and most Jersey refuges — an incredible report store in a nondescript strip mall.

Thank you, Vintage Vinyl, for all your many years of music and escape. Arrive August, you are going to uncover me singing: “I would love to go again to the old house, but I in no way will …”

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Brent Johnson may perhaps be arrived at at [email protected].

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