All Things Must Pass – The Rise and Fall of Tower Records – Part 2 – Continuation Dreams

Even now, nearly 25 years later, I still have these dreams.

I guess they’re anxiety dreams. Continuation dreams. In more ways than one.

I’m back at Tower. They’ve gone bankrupt, then reorganized. Inexplicably, I find myself employed there again. Don’t ask how. It’s a goddamned dream. It’s not supposed to make sense.

The setting is a sprawling office complex. It’s a workday, but also a party; no one’s really doing anything that resembles work. People are milling around, coming, going, laughing, talking. Drinking. It’s hard to tell if anyone knows what’s going on, but a good time is being had.

I try to look busy. Somehow, having a good time and looking somewhat busy seems more important than actually getting anything done.


When Colin Hanks announced a Kickstarter campaign in June 2011 to fund a documentary about Tower Records, I backed him — admittedly, mainly to get a copy of the movie.

10679807_10152717710007070_7625872736727229695_oI received the DVD premium almost five years later. I sat down and watched it a month ago. I watched it again tonight.

Hanks had a tough job. Although the concept intrigued me, I’m wasn’t (and still am not) sure how anyone could make a film about Tower. Not running less than two hours, anyway. It’d have to be a miniseries. Or a full 13-episode season. There’s so many personalities and peaks and valleys and anecdotes and nuances to cover.

A brief bit of background (OK, a disclaimer): As related in part 1, beginning at age 24, making $4.25 an hour, I spent close to 10 years at TRIP (Tower Records Import Products), a central warehouse in West Sacramento, CA. I was head buyer for imports and independent labels for the Tower chain. That’s me in the photo — bad hair and all — a couple months before I quit.

I worked with all the Tower employees who were interviewed for the film. It got me thinking about the people at Tower and my time there; I figure I should get some of this stuff down before I forget it. Or allow time and sentimentality color it further.

Before I bellyflop into this particular adult-sized kiddie pool, it has to be said:

All Things Must Pass is NOT a documentary.

It isn’t a balanced examination of all sides of Tower’s rise and fall from a journalistic non-angle. Simply having Steve Knopper from Rolling Stone second-guessing the history of the company — and the music industry in general — doesn’t constitute “balance.”

So, if it isn’t a documentary, what is it?

It’s more a love letter.

Or perhaps, more accurately, an obituary. A celebration of life.

Or, rather, a celebration of the curiously ambiguous slogan No Music, No Life.


[to be continued]