The death of Tower Records

The Tower from the Haindl Tarot deck

The ever-excellent Guardian gives a nice overview (and eulogy) of where Tower Records stands today:

Tower Records, once a sign of the vitality of the US music retail market, a multinational purveyor of musical knowledge and influence, has gone under. Two years ago the company filed for bankruptcy. It recovered and at the start of this year a new chief executive, a bankruptcy and crisis management specialist, was brought in. But on August 20 the company again filed for bankruptcy and three leading record labels stopped supplying the chain, saying that it had not paid its bills.

It’s a bit of a shock to be reminded of yet another fondness of my past in America being destroyed. My whole time at MIT, I lived within a decent walking distance from large Tower Records outlets: across the river as an undergrad at Baker House, and in Harvard Square while living in north Cambridge as a Masters student. They made for a great (if not necessarily cheap) evening out, with Tower’s late hours. I think a very sizable proportion of my CD collection came from Tower (probably second to Newbury Comics‘ wicked deep discounts), and a lot of my most treasured finds were from there.

With the force of their retail presence in the Boston area, I always thought of Tower as representing the solid establishment, with enough sway to have a definitive catalogue alongside the popular stuff. It turns out this was just a product of the times, and since I left America ten years ago, the landscape has changed dramatically. I don’t think I can work up the energy for an anti-globalisation/homogenation rant at the moment. It’s more of a melancholy recognition that America really has changed, and each time I return, I know it less and less.

[Update: I had no idea this was such a popular topic.]