The Wrecka Stow…

07 Apr

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.

1 Comment

Posted by on April 7, 2012 in Pop Life


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One response to “The Wrecka Stow…

  1. Andrew

    April 7, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I still do it. Sometimes I will even refuse to purchase albums online.
    BTW, the record store scene in the French Quarter is basically non-existent. Two places that mostly cater to tourist. One took over the old tower spot and is ridiculously overpriced. The other specializes in Louisiana music. Which is nice if you want some swamp rock or sludge metal.


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