Music Sounds Better With Evil Corporations

Last night I walked past two major record stores in Boston. As I crossed in front of the Virgin Megastore, they were playing “Hombre” by M.I.A. When I went into Newbury Comics, they were playing Bjork’s singles in one half of the store and some anonymous-sounding, boring guitar band in the other half. At that moment, I desperately wished that Virgin sold comic books because it was blatantly obvious that Newbury Comics had jumped the shark and put itself in a little musical cul-de-sac that refused to acknowledge music after 1997 and I didn’t really want to be in that place; I wanted to run through 2005 with M.I.A. on one arm and Stush on the other.

I found it to be a relatively jarring moment because I’ve been retreating without complaint into musical nostalgia over the past couple of years; I’ve felt little-to-no desire to investigate musical scenes any deeper than what gets presented on MTV and the local ClearChannel radio stations (outside of keeping an eye out for musical endeavors pursued by people I’ve met online), plus I’ve felt almost no desire to buy/download anything that I either haven’t heard before or wasn’t done by an established favorite. Newbury Comics, which (to me) used to be the Boston bastion of forward-thinking tastemaking, seems to have retreated into this shell as well, pandering to the most conservative musical instincts in my body, but as I walked past Virgin and heard those braying, discordant “HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY”s ringing out over the street, I felt, I don’t know, alive, like I was about to be transported naked onto a dancefloor with 8 million clones of my wife begging me to dance them into orgasm. Entering Newbury Comics felt like turning my back on a shiny, candy-coated version of TEH FUTUR. Almost every fiber of my being wanted to run into the street, dash over to Virgin and spend my entire paycheck on new imports, like I did in my early 20s. It was a crystallized moment of pure aural-consumer desire the likes of which I hadn’t felt since 2000. Instead, I wandered to the counter with my X-Men book and a copy of Actually and wistfully thought back on the days when I wasn’t old.

I guess it isn’t a big surprise that the big conglomerate would be better at pushing “CONSUME!” buttons than the “plucky-local-kid” conglomerate that still thinks chrome-plated Dr. Martens are the shit, but it’s been YEARS since I’ve felt that overwhelming need to buy music. Even though I’ll probably stay in my hermetic navel-gazing bubble for the time being, it’s nice to know there’s a manic monster in my heart that would like to make a gigantic grime-and-reggaeton jock strap and give me the world’s funkiest wedgie with it.