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  • Writer's pictureFrances

The Distinct Clack of CD cases

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

I grew up in a bookstore that also sold records and cds. Edit to add: I was (I think) 14 when Books, Strings & Things opened on the Market Square in Roanoke, so "grew up" is a stretch, but I loved it there. There had been a BS&T in Blacksburg since the '70s, but I knew it only vaguely. The one in Roanoke became my mother ship, my home base, my second living room. I loved the music over the speakers. I loved the cherry shelves and white metal spiral staircase. I loved the clack of CD cases and the whoosh of albums as you thumb through them. I loved the books and book events, remembering Alan Gurganus in particular, stacks of A Confederate Widow Tells All by the front counter. My parents invested in the store, becoming partners. I was so excited to be part of a store that I loved, I screamed with joy when they told me. I dreamed of getting married in there one day, a white dress flowing down the stairs.

I loved the people most of all. I loved Will and Shelly and Chris and Frances. I loved Carl and Peter and Rand and Beth. I loved Amy and her fantastic goth band. I loved J. and Catherine. I went to Hollins partly because Catherine had gone there. They were grownups who did things like go hear live music and read really good books and spend afternoons at the Grandin Theater watching really good movies. They were who I wanted to be, and in some ways, who I became. They shaped my taste in so many ways.

So when Cora's friend's dad, Cory Blackwood, bought the local record store and turned it into Ritual Records here in town, I rejoiced. I so want her to learn about music by eavesdropping around the register. I want her to inspect the posters and get curious about the bands in them. I want her to blindly pick up a cd that looks cool and hope that it's as good as American Music Club or Yaz, two of my blind choices from my old days. Most of all, I hope she learns the sense of community that a great music store creates, the bands that form, the nights out listening to Johnny Winter or Southern culture on the Skids. At least she's on her way.

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