Donald MacInnes: Why teenage kicks at HMV will always beat internet clicks

In The Red
  • @DonaldAMacInnes

I don't often deal with your actual serious financial issues in this department. Being a bear of very little brain, I tend to limit myself to silliness. However, I am flexible, so this week I will discuss a genuine news story: the demise of HMV.

I love iTunes and think the way we buy our music is now the way it absolutely should be. Yes, it used to be nice acquiring a tangible record/CD/cassette and giving it a place in your modest, if growing, collection. But you soon realise that all these things really do is gather dust. So why not just buy the music, rather than a piece of plastic on which it is stored?

Mind you, while it is enormous fun to trawl iTunes, the old method was good fun, too. Every Saturday afternoon, I would catch the train from my home on the south side of Glasgow to Central Station. A side exit from the station took you right on to Union Street, on which the HMV store stood waiting; hungry for your wages from stacking supermarket shelves. The Virgin Megastore was a few doors down, but I tended to favour HMV. I think I liked HMV's logo of the wee dog listening to the gramophone. It seemed older; more authentic; a little less corporate than Virgin's planes, trains and automobiles approach.

So I would enter HMV's dark, pungent environment, a little intimidated, as it always felt like some ultra-cool youth club which viewed you as a perpetual junior member. If I was just browsing, I could be there for an hour or so, my confidence growing as I lingered in the shadows. But I often knew what I wanted and would be in and out in a matter of minutes. A speedy turnaround also meant you didn't have to wait for the two most important aspects of your purchase – getting it home and listening to it.

The journey home on the train was where you would turn your new record over in your hands, smelling its newness and hoping that some girl would see that, as you had just bought the new Smiths album, you must be the kind of bloke she should be dating.

But if no girl happened to notice you, you still had the thrill of getting home and listening to your record for the first time, feeling like Indiana Jones after an Inca temple raid – the journey there, the hunt, the booty, the journey home (with possible romantic entanglements) and the breathless unwrapping.

A click of your mouse may be way easier, but it doesn't fill up a bored teenager's Saturday afternoon quite as well.

Twitter: @DonaldAMacInnes