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Column: Record release day just isn't the same

I’ve probably forgotten more about high school than I remember, but last week reminded me of a vivid memory from the first semester of my senior year.

From the moment my friend Paul loaned me his CD of the Pearl Jam album “Ten,” I fell in love with the band. I was elated earlier this year when I not only found out they would be making a return trip for a concert in Missoula but also that they would be releasing their 12th studio album on April 19.

While impatiently awaiting to hear more than the two songs they have released from “Dark Matter,” I was reminded of the day from my senior year, October 19, 1993.

It had been a couple of years since “Ten,” so I was excited that the band would release their second studio album. I was also anxious because although MTV was still playing videos at the time, Pearl Jam didn’t make any videos to promote “ VS.” Other than hearing one single on the radio, I had no idea what the album would sound like.

This was far removed from the days when you could get online and find a couple of singles or even a leaked version of an album. You had to go into the record store and buy one. New music would always go on sale on Tuesdays, and you better believe I would not miss this one.

A couple of my classmates had called the record store to see how many copies they would have when “VS” was released on October 19, and they were told to get there early because they were going to sell out in a matter of hours.

I did not like hearing this news, but I could not do much about it because I didn’t have a car in high school. Sometimes, I was lucky enough to catch a ride with a friend, but often, my mode of transportation was a school bus.

I thought of stealing the bus and taking it to Hastings for a brief moment, but I decided that probably wasn’t the best idea.

As I was walking between first and second periods, I saw a group of my classmates standing around and talking about heading over to the store. Nobody wanted to skip class, and they also figured that by lunchtime, there would not be any copies left.

This is when one of my classmates stepped up to the plate. She told us she couldn’t care less about getting in trouble for skipping school; she would head to the store immediately. She told us she would pick us up a copy if we had the $12ish (I can’t remember the price, but that seems close).

After a few minutes, she probably had over $300 and had walked out the front doors.

At this point, she could have gotten in the car and headed to Mexico, but she did not let us down.

 I can remember being in speech class and having a view of the front door to the school. When I saw my classmate walk back in, I left class to get my CD. I’m sure I got yelled at, but I didn’t care.

It was such a beautiful day out for October. I thought about walking the five miles home to listen to the CD, but I decided to wait.

It was an excruciating rest of the school day.

My friend I usually went to lunch with couldn’t go that day, which threw a wrench in my plans to listen in his car. I tried to convince my teachers to play it for the class, but that didn’t work well. At this point, I should have just stolen the bus and listened to “VS” on my way to Mexico. With my luck, the bus wouldn’t have had a CD player.

When I finally got home, I probably had some dog poop to pick up, but I did not care. I went to my room, shut the door, and repeatedly listened to the album until midnight.

There was something magical about grabbing the liner notes and reading the lyrics during the first listen. It was a great album, and I still listen to it occasionally.

I think I probably ate dinner at some point where I was yelled at about the smell of the poop in the backyard, but there were no worries on this day.

Record release Tuesdays were always a big deal for me, and this day was extra special. You can’t get this by downloading something on iTunes or Spotify. It’s just not the same. There are many great things about technology, but in a way, it’s ruined music for me.

I loved to get in the car with my gigantic CD case and drive for hours listening to music without a care in the world.

The following day, nobody was interested in school; it was just about talking about their favorite songs from “VS.” A few were listening on their portable CD players in the class. It was a joyous time and one I will never forget.

I will find a CD version of the new Pearl Jam album and ride in my 1997 4Runner. As I look at the liner notes for the lyrics, maybe I shouldn’t be the one driving.

 
 
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