I recently had a lovely reunion with my dear friend and her husband in Decatur. As I was leaving their home I asked if they knew of a good place to grab some used CDs.
“Wax ‘N’ Facts or Wuxtry,” said Rhonda. “But try Wuxtry first for their CD collection,” Richard added.
I had heard of Wax ‘N’ Facts, but (and I’m ashamed to admit it) Wuxtry was a new name to me.
Wuxtry Records was founded in Athens in 1976 and the Decatur location was opened just two years later. They are listed as one of Rolling Stone’s top 25 record store picks.
Upon entering the small, crowded shop I immediately understood why Wuxtry is such a music retail landmark. There was an immediate cool, give-a-damn vibe.
I sensed an unapologetic garage sale feel as I hunted through crates and boxes stuffed with alphabetized albums. No pretense — Wuxtry knows they house the most amazing selection of hard-to-get music merch around, and there is an unspoken “you’re welcome here.”
Walls are plastered with a disarray of posters, many which look to be collectors items themselves.
Perhaps MOST importantly, I could tell that the clerks, as well as the patrons, had clearly been around when those legends on the walls had been in their prime.
These rock aficionados had their salt-and-pepper hair pulled back in ponies, wore faded T-shirts with tour dates from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, and were immersed in “behind-the-scenes” conversations as they held up vinyls and recounted the times they saw “them” in concert. Their enthusiasm was intoxicating.
I had stepped into my own version of “Almost Famous,” and I was in a room with some of the dudes who had been on tour with the bands.
Led Zeppelin, Queen, Black Sabbath, The Who, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd, The Cars, The Clash, The Cure, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lynyrd Skynyrd and more — they were all there and were well represented.
Wuxtry should charge a cover for the ambiance alone.
Entranced in a nostalgic state of bliss, I felt honored and delighted as I witnessed a beautiful exchange taking place between these lovers of legends, these keepers of the flame, these ride-or-die concert attendees who had followed (and still follow) their bands across countries and through decades just to see them live “one more time.”
I was among greats who had been among THE greats.
I overheard one particularly passionate enthusiast, who had a stack of Phish vinyls balanced on a crate in front of him, say, “Damn, I’ve been looking for this one.”
”Find one you don’t have?” I asked, noticing his Phish T-shirt.
”I have the special edition CD but not the vinyl. I was there in ‘95. I saw them live when this was taped,” he responded without breaking eye contact with the black, plastic wrapped holy grail (for him anyway) of Phish albums.
”You were there? That’s amazing,” I responded, thrilled for him.
”Have you heard of these guys?”
He held up a vinyl with the name of a group I’d never seen. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, a punk rock group out of Australia.
”No, I’m not cool enough,” I said, admitting my lack of knowledge with regret.
”If you wanna up your game, check them out.”
”Most def. Thanks,” I replied.
I have checked them out, and he WAS right — Game. Upped.
As I approached the counter with my CD pile I was only too thrilled (and surprised) to be complimented for one of my choices.
”Great selection,” said the Phish fan. “Madonna. Vogue. Great stuff.”
He was referring to the Immaculate Collection album I had found.
”Yeah,” I said, “True Blue will always be my favorite album, but you can’t beat Vogue.”
As I checked out, I replaced my Zeppelin CDs with R.E.M. and Tori Amos.
“I just feel the need to let you know, sir, that I realized I already have these albums. That’s why I am replacing them,” I stated matter of factly.
Reader, if you ever have replaced a Zeppelin record at a checkout counter you understand my moral obligation to explain why. The salesman, who I thought to be the manager and who may have actually met Zeppelin at some point, grinned and asked me to come back soon.
My first mini road trip, post vaccination, could not have been a better one.
If you can’t make it to one of Wuxtry’s locations, find a local used record store to visit. Observe, engage, and buy some music.
You’ll be glad you did.