Mapping the Music and Style in ‘Empire Records’

While the coolest kids worked at the music store, we had or own version of Empire Records running strong at Waldenbooks. “Damn the man!” was our battle cry, and we did declare it loudly, didn’t we, Meghan? All while Robin quietly shook his head and tried to keep us in line.

“Gee, Mark, you play a mean guitar! Too bad you must DIE!!!”

In the days before the internet, before streaming and Spotify and Soundcloud, the coolest place in the world was the independent record shop. Rows and rows of shiny LPs, sparkling crystal CD cases, plus members of staff to big style crush on. Saturdays were spent shuffling slowly around the linoleum, thumbing through album after album, the slender wad of bills growing increasingly damp in your sweaty hand. If you were in a band you would go to the record shop to listen to other bands for free, sharing headphones with the rest of the teenagers in your area. If you weren’t in a band you’d go there to dream about what it would be like to be in a band, or just peacock your carefully put together outfit which indicated whatever musical tribe you belonged to.

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