Sunday, September 29, 2013

The End Of An Era In Tupelo

Johnny Holland and Barbara Lewis
locking the door at Album Alley for
the last time. Photo courtesy
Deb Fooshee.
This weekend marked the end of an era for Tupelo, with the closing of Album Alley, the last independent record store in the area. After more than 40 years in business, the doors were closed for the last time at 5:00 pm Saturday. I went by Friday to pay my respects to a place where I spent the majority of my youth (and money), and it was a bittersweet visit.

I have many fond memories of the place and met most of my "music friends" while browsing the extensive collection of albums, cassettes, and, later, CD's inside. I can remember sitting in the back of my truck talking music with friends (and strangers) until the wee hours of the morning, or until the police broke it up.

January 1991 is a vivid memory, as I along with 100 others camped outside the doors for the initial sale of tickets for the ZZ Top Recycler Tour. I arrived at the parking lot around midnight in coveralls (it was around 15° F), and was apparently the only one with the forethought to bring sleeping bags to help keep warm. I remember the ash tray that sat by the front door being emptied and filled with Everclear, which was then set afire to keep some warm. Of course, before the night was over, the Tupelo Police Dept. was on the scene checking IDs and making sure "no funny business is going on."

My normal routine every Friday was to go by the Alley and ask, "Anything worth a shit come out this week," to which Stanley, Johnny, Deb, Barbara, Mendi, Chico, Terry, or Brian would answer. I've always had broad tastes, and would buy 3 or 4 new albums and spend my weekend on the Trace or riding backroads listening to my newest purchases. Some of the music has stuck with me through the years. Stanley is responsible for my Ian Moore collection, Deb for people such as Keith Sykes or Todd Snider, and Johnny fed my 80's Hair Band addiction, and I want to thank you all for your contributions.

Of course, I also spent a lot of time loitering, begging Johnny to come audition for singer in my band at the time, Little Dreamer, to which he finally relented and we've spent the last 23 years writing songs together, some of which are still being played by the Project!

Goodbye, Album Alley, and to Johnny and Barbara, good luck with your future endeavors. I'm gonna miss hanging out at the store, but I know we'll all stay in touch. We have for all these years.