For Thornton, Record Store Day Stirs Memories On Saturday, nearly 500 independently owned record stores across the country are celebrating Record Store Day. Actor and musician Billy Bob Thornton remembers the record store of his childhood and explains why stores like it are crucial to the spirit of music.
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For Thornton, Record Store Day Stirs Memories

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For Thornton, Record Store Day Stirs Memories

For Thornton, Record Store Day Stirs Memories

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JACKI LYDEN, host:

Sometimes getting older means watching the things you loved as a child become obsolete: twisting your finger around the cord of a telephone, making that satisfying clack on a typewriter or tweaking the rabbit-ear antenna on the living room TV.

Actor and musician Billy Bob Thornton misses the sounds, the smells, the characters of his hometown record store. Today is Record Store Day, created to draw attention to the independent record stores still fighting to stay open in the digital age. Billy Bob Thornton has this remembrance.

Mr. BILLY BOB THORNTON (Actor and musician): When I was growing up in my little town of Malvern, Arkansas, we had a shop called Paula's Record Shop. And the old lady that ran it, Paula, used to chase us out of there because we'd come in there and just stay all day, just looking at the records. We couldn't really afford to buy them.

And she was a nice woman but -, or at least she was nice when you first got there, but she could be a little cranky, but that store to me, to this day, is just a magical memory.

The first record I ever bought was in Paula's. It was "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles. I bought the 45. It was the first time I ever bought anything with my own money.

(Soundbite of song, "I Want to Hold Your Hand")

The BEATLES (Singers): (Singing) Oh, yeah, I'll tell you something…

Mr. THORNTON: To this day, that record is the thing that I credit as being the catalyst for me wanting to be in the entertainment business, period.

(Soundbite of song, "I Want to Hold Your Hand")

The BEATLES (Singers): (Singing) I want to hold your hand. I want to hold your hand.

Mr. THORNTON: I got my entire musical education from that record store and the radio. We'd hear the songs and the bands on the radio, and then we'd go straight to Paula's and stare at the covers and read the album notes.

It was the only record store in town. There weren't any big conglomerates or other record outlets, really. It was just this one little shop. It seemed at that time to be so huge to me, but I know now it was just this little-bitty building, kind of dusty, I don't know. At the time, it just seemed like a palace.

Now, when we're out on tour or on location, I'll find whatever independent record store is around, and that's where I go. It's pretty much where I spend my time.

There are still some cities that have record stores that give me that same feeling when I used to walk into Paula's. In Austin, I go to Waterloo. And when I'm in Minneapolis, I go to the Electric Fetus. I usually have to get an extra suitcase to bring home with me on the plane, to carry everything I bought at those shops.

I was doing a movie up in Minneapolis one time, and I bought over 500 CDs at the Electric Fetus. I think I put their kids through college.

Anyway, independent record stores are really the only places left with the actual spirit of music as we knew it growing up, and hopefully, those will be around for 50 years from now because that's where it feels magical: You don't feel like you're buying a tire iron, a tube of shampoo, or bag of Cheetos and a record. You're just in there to buy records, or at least look at them.

LYDEN: Actor and musician Billy Bob Thornton. He's about to release a new record with his band, The Boxmasters. This is Billy Bob, singing the very song that inspired him so many years ago.

(Soundbite of song, "I Want to Hold Your Hand")

Mr. THORNTON: (Singing) Oh yeah I'll tell you something, I want to hold your hand. I want to hold your hand. I want to hold your hand. I want to hold your hand.

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