If you were a teenager before the 2000s and lived in a decently sized town or city, chances are you went to a Tower Records. Tower used to be one of my go-to spots to buy/browse music while I was a high school kid in the Bay Area, and I saw a free Queens of the Stone Age show at the Tower Records in San Diego while I was in college. The company was dead by 2006.
The demise of Tower Records is the subject of Colin Hanks’ documentary All Things Must Pass. (Yes, he’s the son of Tom Hanks. No, he’s not the son of Colin Farrell or Colin Firth--names and blood relations don’t work that way. Though, oddly, Colin Farrell is the Bizarro version of Pharrell Williams and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass is one of the best albums ever recorded and the son of Colin Firth, but this is all very complicated and silly.)
Check out the trailer for All Things Must Pass below:
Here’s a synopsis for All Things Must Pass, which comes out October 16th:
Established in 1960, Tower Records was once a retail powerhouse with two hundred stores, in thirty countries, on five continents. From humble beginnings in a small-town drugstore, Tower Records eventually became the heart and soul of the music world, and a powerful force in the music industry. In 1999, Tower Records made $1 billion. In 2006, the company filed for bankruptcy. What went wrong? Everyone thinks they know what killed Tower Records: The Internet. But thats not the story. All Things Must Pass is a feature documentary film examining this iconic companys explosive trajectory, tragic demise, and legacy forged by its rebellious founder, Russ Solomon.
It’s odd to think that working at a record store or a video store used to be an odd badge of honor, as if a music geek or movie geek could earn his or her stripes by having a crummy retail job. With age I’ve realized that my teenage and college retail jobs weren’t a rite of passage but a means to an employee discount. Physical media is almost a niche interest despite arguments for quality and ownership, and if you live in a city, it’s all just an inconvenient source of clutter. On top of that, people tend to rely on the statistical certainty of algorithms for music and movie recommendations rather than talking to an ostensibly knowledgeable human being whose taste, no matter how impeccable, is subjective (the nerve!).
The above may partially explain the wistful romance of the record store, and why people cling to brick and mortar shops despite the looming threat of the cloud. (“The cloud” in some contexts is such a menacing name, like “the airborne toxic event” from Don DeLillio’s White Noise.) There’s the thrill of browsing through actual artifacts and interacting with other enthusiasts, an experience that’s been lost or taken for granted. Record stores still have cachet (the aural equivalent of independent bookstores), though physical video stores seem even rarer and more niche (a smooshed box by the curb with the word “free” written on the side and somehow misspelled).
As the older millennials hit their 30s and as Gen-Xers hit middle-age, a nostalgic look back at Tower Records right about now makes sense.
Just don’t expect as fawning a documentary about Blockbuster Video or Sam Goody when those are inevitably made.[via /Film]