Today was the final day that Tower Records was in business here in New York City. Both locations, Greenwich Village (pictured) and Lincoln Center, closed this evening. The Lincoln Center store was open for 22 years, and the Village one, which I worked at from 1984-1990, was a staple at the corner of East 4th Street and Broadway for 23 years, and the first Tower store east of the Mississippi.
I went in at about 3:30 PM for one final, nostalgic look around. It is still so surreal to see it come to this final conclusion. The store was crowded with customers looking to find one last bargain. There was very little of any quality left, as people grabbed all the good stuff when the liquidation was first announced. On the top floor, I saw something that made me stop and not the irony. The once great Classical music room, which was one of the very best outlets for all kinds of classical music anywhere in the world, was serving as a place for bargain rap CDs and the last remaining videos in the store. Terribly sad.
I saw my friend Ramsey Jones, who was interviewed in today's NY Daily News, and who was one of the last links to when I worked in the store 16 years ago. He was as sad as I was. We talked about the store's demise, as well as the changing face of the Village. Tower joins CBGB's, The Cactus Cafe and The Bottom Line as great places I used to go to that are now part of history. We also talked to some customers, and they also hated to see Tower go under.
I took some photos of the store on all different floors. Today, the basement, mezzanine and most of the Jazz and Classical sections were closed off. In total, I spent about 45 minutes in the store, and I took a long walk along the rock floor and the memories of my days as the rock floor CD buyer and floor manager came rushing back. I thought of those in-stores, the Saturdays when the floor was wall-to-wall customers, and especially, those good friends I knew all those years ago.
When I got to the Front Desk, I thought of my beloved late friend Joyce, and I knew that wherever she was now that she was probably as sad as I was. At that time, someone there was playing a boom box (as the DJ booth was shut down), and I heard some of the employees singing, "American Pie." I thought about how appropriate it was ("The Day The Music Died"), until I discovered they weren't playing the Don MacLean classic original but that putrid Madonna cover. Oh well...
As I got to the front doors, I bumped into a lady I was talking to a few minutes earlier with Ramsey. She said to me, "It looks like you don't want to leave." I told her that I worked there so many years ago, and these final moments in the store was really heartbreaking. "I never thought this could happen to Tower, and I didn't want to see it end like this," I told her.
And as I was leaving, I thought of an incident about 21 years ago I never forgot. I remember a really busy day around Christmas of 1985. Two friends of mine, Andrew and Charles, and I had just finished a grueling nearly all-afternoon register shift on the rock floor. The three of us went outside to get a breath of fresh air before returning to work. I'll never forget Charles saying to us, "Can you believe we work in a place like this? Tower is really something else."
It sure was.
So long Tower. Thanks for all the memories.
I'll treasure them for the rest of my life.