Tuesday, October 16, 2012


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I guess it's not surprising that there's a record store called Permanent Records -- or, as it turns out, three record stores called Permanent Records. The one at the top is located in Brooklyn and has been open at least since 2011. The one in the middle, with the annoyingly hard-to-read sign, is in Chicago and has been open since 2006. And the one on the bottom, which is a spin-off of the Chicago store, is in Los Angeles and opened in June of 2011.

It makes sense that all of these shops opened relatively recently. A record store called Permanent Records wouldn't have made sense in, say, the 1980s. But now, with vinyl records and even CDs seeming like antiquated audio formats, the name "Permanent Records" registers as a statement of defiance -- like, "Okay, most of you may have moved on to MP3s, but we're still not going away."

As it happens, vinyl records (and, to a lesser extent, CDs) can have stories to tell, just like the other objects we examine here at Permanent Record. Personally, I never wrote my name on any of my records, but I know some people who did -- sometimes on the jacket, sometimes on the inner sleeve, and sometimes on the label. I specifically remember one kid I grew up who always wrote "Property of..." and then his name on all his records, which seemed like a bit much to me at the time. I've come across lots of these personalized LPs and 45s in used record stores over the years; maybe you have too. Not sure if I still have any of those records (I've pared down my vinyl collection pretty significantly in recent years), but I'll check. It would be interesting to try to track down the record's previous owner and find out why he or she chose to part with it.

In any case, this is a good reminder that Permanent Record -- both the name and the concept -- can extend in some unexpected directions.

(Special thanks to Heather McCabe for the inspiration on this one.)


  1. I bought a whole lot of used records over the years. Unless one was seemingly unobtainable elsewhere in those pre-internet days, I would skip it if it had a previous owner's name or any other writing on it. It marred it, in my eyes. Today's post kind of makes me wish that I hadn't been such a stickler.

  2. Why does the website of the Permanent Records in Brooklyn have an address with "Brooklyn" crossed out and Greenpoint in its place?

  3. "Permanent Record" always sets off a voice in my head: "This will go on your permanent record!"......which as you have shown us, is not such an idle threat!

    About the time I graduated from high school, it was possible to examine your own permanent record once you turned 18. Mine was disappointingly boring. Later, my brother needed a copy of his (for security clearance), and I was sent to go get it from the school. They were being kept in cardboard file boxes, under the stage.....not a terribly secure archive for something so "permanent". :)

  4. Speaking of marked-up records: Many of my LPs are from my days working at a campus listening library in the music building and additionally at a campus radio station. (Some of the LPs were being discarded, but I admit several of them I just never returned -- shame on me, truly.) They are so loudly marked up on almost every surface with the university name and/or the radio station broadcast call sign that I feel a twinge of conscience whenever I pull them out.

  5. I buy a lot of used vinyl. Someone's name on a record used to bug me (not enough to not buy a record), but my feelings have changed now. It's almost cool knowing a record's history.
    One of the coolest, I think, was someone named Lynne who bought an original UK press of the Genesis album "Wind & Wuthering". When I got home, I found "27/12/76" written very neatly on the inner sleeve. It took me a sec before I realized it was a date in the English format. That date was like 3 days after the record was originally released. I thought it was cool to have a record from someone who was probably a big fan.

  6. Lot's of my records from when I was a kid had my name on them because I took them to school on record days, and you didn't want your discs mixed up with someone else's discs.