My first time in New Orleans, in December of 1995, I was more excited about browsing through the French Quarter’s independent record stores than in exploring Bourbon Street at its raunchiest. In those pre-Amazon/Napster days, I relished the opportunity to scour through the bins of stores in other towns. If your tastes went beyond Top 40 releases from the past five years, you weren’t interested in a Sam Goody or a Walmart. You kept your eyes out for a “wrecka stow.”
I first heard the term used in 1986′s Under the Cherry Moon starring Prince. Unless you’re Prince or me, you probably haven’t seen the film but there’s a scene in which he asks the very English Kristin Scott Thomas to say “wrecka stow.” Her Masterpiece Theater pronunciation of the term is hilarious.
My friends and I had passed by a promising indie shop on our way to our next drink (when visiting New Orleans, you are always on your way to your next drink). I offhandedly referred to the place as a “wrecka stow” and my friend Todd found it amusing. Later that day, he suggested we head back to the “wrecka stow.” By this point, I think he just enjoyed saying it. He did much better than Ms. Thomas.
Once inside, I went straight for the Prince section. Although Sam Goody had a decent supply of Purple Rain and 1999, his earlier material, especially his 7 and 12-inch singles, was harder to find. Prince had just released a Greatest Hits Collection that was comprehensive but mercilessly cut. It’s criminal to hear a three-and-a-half minute 1999 or I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man. I had all of the albums, but the extended mixes from the 12-inch-singles required patience and scavenging.
My big purchase that day was the 7-inch single for Prince’s Kiss. Todd humored me and listened to my explanation for why this was the best thing ever: Prince’s Greatest Hits CD had also come with a bonus disc of non-album B-Sides. For whatever reason, though, Love or Money, the B-Side to Kiss, was not included. I don’t even remember what it cost. Price was no object. Todd and I had a drink to celebrate my success.
This morning, while in the tub listening to Prince’s Crystal Ball, it occurred to me that because I only ever owned Love or Money on vinyl, it wasn’t on my iPod. I found it on iTunes and downloaded it while brushing my teeth. The 21-year-old me would be impressed but a part of me envies him and the joy of the hunt.