Tuesday, April 13, 2010

When it isn't on itunes

Record Store Day is this week, on Saturday. Why does it matter? Well, let me tell you. . .

Two favorite albums from my youth were released on CD in March- the “Sesame Street Old School CD set volume 1” is a must-have for “Sesame Seeds” like myself. It includes the first Sesame Street album, as well as “Bert and Ernie sing along,” which I believe is the funniest children’s album ever made. It is certainly one of the most creative. (The set also includes “Big Bird Sings,” which while not a specific favorite, deserves mentioning.) So this was a set I wanted- but I decided to buy it locally rather than online. I’m not against ordering online, but when you buy things locally, you get them into your greedy little hands faster. Yes, you do. But this created an issue- exactly where should I get it? This isn’t an easy question to answer. Here’s what happened on my escapade:

1. My first attempt was at secondspin.com. Their store is easily the largest in my area, and while they don’t have everything, they’ve got a lot. It’s easy for a music browser to waste an hour or two looking around. I felt that this was a reasonable first choice. But no dice. The album wasn’t there.

2. While I didn’t really expect to find it at Wal-Mart, I felt it was at least worth a peek. Wal-Mart is the 21st-century answer to the “general store.” You can generally find everything you will generally need. Need a shirt? Need a book? Need a movie? You can find them all at Wal-Mart. The problem is, you may not find THE shirt, THE book or THE movie that you were looking for. The more specific you get, the less likely you are to find it at Wal-Mart, or Target or any of the similar stores. This case was no exception, I couldn’t find the CD set there.

3. At last, success. The “Old School” set was found in. . .a local independent music store. Not a children’s store. A store for music fans. This store isn’t the biggest music store in town. But biggest isn’t always best. I don’t think the store was making a specific effort to bring Sesame Street to the masses (in fact, there was only one copy in the store). But I do think the store was trying to have as good a selection of music as it possibly could. If that means offering a Sesame Street CD set, so be it. And in this case, they found someone eager to buy. I’m glad I was able to buy it at an independent store. I wish that other stores would see the importance of trying to offer as much as they could in store. It works.

The saga of music stores over the past few years has been interesting. Incidentally, Hollywood Video has been having some issues as well, closing several stores in an effort to bounce back from bankruptcy. Their struggles demonstrate how even the movie rental industry has changed. Check my archives for more about music stores.


BEYOND THE POINT OF NO RETURN: Longtime comic book fans will remember the “What if” series of comics. They featured stories that tried to answer what would happen to a particular character if things were slightly different. For example, the first issue was titled, “What if Spider Man had joined the Fantastic Four?“ Another was titled, “What if Wolverine had killed the Hulk?“ It was a fun series, but composer Andrew Lloyd Webber may have just created the most elaborate and expensive “What if” of all.

In the movie “Phantom of the Opera,” based on Lloyd Webber’s hit musical, there is a point where the Phantom has the opportunity to make love to Christine. (It isn’t the best opportunity, as Christine has just fainted). But he doesn’t do it. He draws the curtain down and lets her sleep. Well, in the new musical play “Love Never Dies,” we are given a “what if” scenario. What if the Phantom and Christine had been intimate? Or perhaps a better title would be, “What if everyone strongly suspected that the Phantom and Christine had been intimate?” It’s an interesting idea, and it has many longtime “Phantom Phans” in a bit of an uproar. Admittedly, it doesn’t seem to fit with the original story very well. I can just see the Phantom drawing the curtain down, then saying, "Oh, what the heck?" and pulling it up again.

But to be fair, it isn’t the first time someone has had the idea for this plot twist. It appears notably in Susan Kay’s novel “Phantom,” although in that case the story was changed slightly to allow a time and place for the intimacy. I’ve read Kay’s novel & enjoyed it- it certainly should also be viewed as a “What if” when compared to the musical, as it contains events and characters that weren’t included in that production. If the phans can accept phantom phiction like “Phantom”, perhaps they can phind it in their hearts to phorgive this latest production. Phew!
If you check out the forums at phantomoftheopera.com, you can see some pictures from the “Love Never Dies” production. One of these pictures features Christine and the Phantom standing in front of what one poster says looks like. . .a part of the female anatomy. As the poster says, “I can’t make this up.” The play has debuted in England to mixed reviews. At least the music seems to be quite beautiful (you can hear one song in my Favorites folder on my Youtube page). I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing this play, but whether it will affect me the way “Phantom” did remains to be seen. But if it’s an enjoyable show, Mr. Lloyd Webber, that’s all I can ask of you.

ON YOUTUBE: ERNIE AND BERT GO THEIR SEPARATE WAYS. It’s about time I featured this one. The audio comes from my own recording, posted to YouTube by jonnytbirdzback. It’s one of many fun lost Sesame St. skits that as of now hasn’t been added to the clips on Sesame Workshop’s site. But it’s still early. . .You can check it out in my favorites folder on my YouTube page, and if you want to see more of the same you can check out Sesame Workshop’s site for cool classic clips.