“Damn the man. Save the Empire.” ~ Mark
For this week’s “Tuesday Double-Feature” I decided to reminisce on my years working in record stores, and celebrate my love/addiction of lingering, browsing and shopping in them now. I selected two movies set in record stores, each with a different feeling and flavor, but both overflowing with that love/addiction of music, records, record stores, and the people who work, and frequent (or shoplift to stay a little longer) in them. Some days I’d give just about anything to go back to being a record store clerk, well, except with better pay. I miss the days spent immersed in the music, and alongside those who loved it like I did. Those years working in those stores, they will forever be my favorite jobs ever.
First up is a movie loosely based on one of the two record companies I worked for (Tower Records). Empire Records (get it? Empire/Tower?) came out in the mid-90’s and featured an ensemble cast full of soon-to-be-famous, should-have-become-famous, and a couple of why-weren’t-you-ever-more-famous faces. This was one of Renée Zellweger’s first films, and definitely early films for Ethan Embry, Liv Tyler and Robin Tunney. I always loved Debi Mazar and Maxwell Caulfield, and Joe is my all-time favorite character that Anthony LaPaglia has ever played. I always look back and wonder whatever happened to Johnny Whitworth and Rory Cochrane, though, and was shocked as hell to notice Brendan Sexton IIi in my current first time watching of The Killing (I couldn’t believe that was him).
Who is your favorite from the staff? I always had a soft spot for Corey, and for Joe. I think I could relate to both of them for different reasons, and at different times in my life. I also have always loved both Debra and Lucas – Debra for her tough exterior, and complicated interior, and Lucas for his big heart (and intentions) despite his false moves, and failings. You have to root for him, right? Though it is Joe, and how torn he is to protect and love his staff (almost as if they are his children), and the store, pulls at my heartstrings, too.
We all want to save the Empire, don’t we?
To me, the music was an ensemble thing, too, and the soundtrack one of my favorite movie compilation albums from the 90’s. You can stream a cool playlist of songs from the movie here on Spotify, something I’ve been doing all afternoon. Turn it up loud and pretend it’s Rex Manning day – and DANCE!
“Let’s all go to the lobby”
“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” ~ Rob
Monday Morning Tape
What do I love more? John Cusack’s Rob? The record store in Chicago setting (I also worked for a record store in that city once upon a different lifetime)? The soundtrack? Or the book itself? Pretty much all of the above, along with the fantastic, and unforgettable, supporting cast, and all the addictive and amazing music culture/pop culture/music obsessiveness dialogue…and all those Top 5 lists (I love lists).
“Top 5 Things I Miss About Laura” (oh, yeah, and she has my name)
A movie based around music, conversations about music, obsessing about music, life working in a record store, and the interweaving of music and emotion and misery with love, is a pretty damn perfect combination for me. This is nearly everything I love all wrapped up in a film which happens to star one of my all-time favorite actors, John Cusack. I mean seriously, could this be any better?
Another plus, you may ask, is that it is a damn good cover song of the fantastic book my Nick Hornby, that I also love so very much.
This movie is in my top five of most quoted films, and is full of moments, such as the one about the Monday mix tape, that I could watch over and over again, never growing tired of it. Every single time the song Walking on Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves) comes on, and even though that song was popular during a pivotal time in my life, and most likely has a long list of memories that could be attached to it, it was the first scene above that immediately comes to mind.
If I were to somehow fall into money I would want to open a record store and spend my days within it, having discussions about music with my staff, talking top five lists and playing favorites, and yes arguing over the best versions, the best order, and what our bests in any topic is. That would be a kind work bliss to me, for certain (even though, YES, I know it is much more than that, as I have friends who own/run stores themselves – but a girl can dream, can’t she?)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t share a link to the soundtrack – here’s a mighty fine playlist of High Fidelity songs to listen to here. Which song will you listen to first?