All Things Must Pass

I’m only about a third of the way through but I’m digging it so far. Man, I miss record stores …

Everyone thinks they know what killed Tower Records: The Internet. But that’s not the story. “All Things Must Pass” examines this iconic company’s explosive trajectory, tragic demise, and legacy forged by its rebellious founder Russ Solomon.

5 Replies to “All Things Must Pass”

  1. Another fine post you rat bastard. I watched half of it last night.

    I spent a great deal of time at the Tower on the Upper West Side of NYC. Fantastic. It had a classical section that was sound-isolated from the rest of the store, and may or may not have had a sign saying FOR RENFIELD ONLY.

    The Mountain View CA Tower was near my college campus. My roommate, a local, had been going there since high school. In the early 80’s, when CD’s were barely invented, he walked in and saw a row of Abbey Road Japanese import CD’s. He didn’t have any money, so quickly went home and got some. By the time he got back, there were only three copies left of the original 20.
    For years, he was the only person I knew with a Beatles CD. It had Japanese writing, and the sound was pristine.

    1. Looking forward to this. I loved those deep-catalog stores, and Tower was the granddaddy of them all. The one I patronized most in NYC was the midtown one and the annex in the Village. The midtown one also had a classical room where we exalted souls could peruse unperturbed by the vulgar tastes of the hoi polloi. I think some of those patrons wished for a private corridor from street to classical room to avoid sonic molestation by Whitney Houston. Those were the ones looking for “Wilhelm Furtwängler’s Beethoven 9th, 1951 Bayreuth, (NOT the 1942 Berlin or 1954 Lucerne) Japanese remaster (not the EMI remaster PLEASE).” So was I, actually, but I prefer the Lucerne.

      The one in Nashville had a separate classical room as well. Not as good as NYC, but always worth a stop when passing through. Memphis finally got a Tower downtown a few years before the chain joined the Choir Invisible. It was not bad, but inferior to the Nashville and of course the New York stores (i.e. no separate classical room and smaller selection).

      However, Memphis did have (for a too-short time) a deep catalog store called Planet Music. It did have a classical room, and it did have my name on it. They loved me there, and not for my good looks and bubbly personality. One day on the way back there I picked up a couple of Rolling Stones CDs, and the classical workers were stunned. “You buy that stuff?!

  2. Haha.

    Before watching this, I would’ve guessed that Napster killed the franchise by itself. I forgot the role that Best Buy et al played by selling CD’s at or below wholesale just to bring people into the store, where they could then buy an overpriced TV or stereo.

    Walmart did the same thing to Blockbuster; it wasn’t just Netflix that took them down. Also, Blockbuster had the opportunity to buy Netflix for something like $50 million in 2000, and passed. Whups.

  3. I’m obsessed with gigantic brands that became obsolete (Tower, Blockbuster, MySpace).

    Pretty sure I’m going to replaced someday by a robot who is smarter and much more handsome than I am.

    1. Then there are the former giants still around but much reduced or on life support: Sears, GE, IBM, etc. I’ve heard Amazon obsesses over avoiding obsolescence, but it will happen to them too.

      Enjoyed the documentary, but very sad. I think they could have survived in reduced form. But when you take on that much debt and can’t keep growing, the bean counters will have their way.

      I think I would have guessed that Amazon did Tower in, but maybe it wasn’t a major music retailer yet. I wouldn’t have guessed Napster because I think most people were still buying physical media then. I wasn’t really aware of Best Buy et al. using CD’s as loss leaders, I guess because I didn’t buy music there. So I learned a lot here.

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