On the Beach in the Record Store

I was sifting through the bins. New arrivals, Local, 3 for 10. A brief moment of static and then Side B of Neil Young's On the Beach came on through the in-store analogue speakers. My ears perked - I had heard the album before (sometime in college probably when I quickly sifted through Neil's discography). I had missed it though; The honesty. The gut-wrentching open spaces in the record, the abrasive bar chords, Neil's breath in the microphone.

After listening to most of the side, I walked up to the cashier. "Which Neil Young is this?" I asked. "On the Beach" he cheerfully replied. "Can I buy it?" I asked. The cashier explained that copies of On the Beach were pretty rare and that they had just got that copy in the store that morning and hadn't catalogued it yet. After a brief moment he walked over to the turntable it was spinning on, lifted the needle, and returned the album to it's sleeve. He walked back over, album in hand, and sold it to me.

I've heard that Neil preferred side B to be side A but his label flipped it, trying to give it more commercial appeal. I recommend listening it to it the way Neil wanted, the way I heard it in the record store.

(memory from Jive Time records in Seattle, 2013)