Sam the Record Man was the greatest record store I’ve been to in my life. It had everything. Its virtue – but perhaps the cause for its un-sustainability – was its lack of editorial judgment. I could buy local indie bands’ albums or an out-of-print Chico Hamilton box-set or a Japanese Radiohead import or a Chopin piano works collection or albums by Vera Lynn or Patti Page and so on and so on. In my younger days, I was a voracious and fickle music fan, always pursuing some new curiosity, wilfully openminded and often deliberately unfashionable. At Sam’s, I could have eternally indulged those impulses. It was a place in which one could always discover something new, always be reintroduced to music, always find some overlooked record that preserved one of the infinite detours on the track of pop history. It had many fabulous and well-versed employees, which is something race-for-the-bottom pay-scales render increasingly implausible for a store like that… It seemed quintessentially Canadian, inclusive and unpretentious but lacking the savviness necessary to endure the cruelties of the marketplace. Besides all that, as most obits should record, Mr. Sniderman established U of T’s Recording Archive Library. I miss his store and mourn him. And this is big of me, considering that he can be blamed for the idiotic nickname with which I was burdened throughout my childhood.
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