Happy April! I'm ready for springtime weather. No more boots, scarfs, hats, and winter coats. I think my age is showing. The winter wasn't really that bad! We've definitely had worse but I am done.
When Mike and I opened Stax, we figured we'd have music playing in the store but didn't talk about what kind of music. I like all different kinds of music and I can listen to almost anything (almost...I have been known to tell my kids or Mike to shut something off because I just couldn't). Mike and I definitely have different tastes in music, though. I tend to lean toward the more pop music and '80s music end of things whereas Mike is more rock and bluesy jazz.
What is the right music for Stax? The music sets the tone of the store, right? I remember going into a store where I was way outside of the demographic for the store (I was too old is what I mean) and the music was loud and pounding. I couldn't stay that long. In other stores, the music is just background noise that you don't even hear. Or sometimes it's familiar and you find yourself humming along as you shop. I wanted the music in Stax to be pleasant and not drive people away.
When I am working in the store, the music is usually something from Motown in the '60s and '70s with some Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darrin mixed in. Mike would rather stick forks in his ears than listen to Bobby Darrin and when he was working he'd play rock or blues. When we were in the store together, one of us would change the music when the other went in back for something or left the store. I mean, rock and jazz? All of the guitar riffs? The 5-minute guitar solos? Not in Stax. I didn't feel like that was the vibe of Stax. The aura...the ambiance.
We tried easy listening, classical, orchestral movie themes but somehow we always ended up on Motown. Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Earth Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5. What is it about this music that makes it right for Stax for me?
As I was working the other day, I had a vivid memory of going somewhere with my grandfather in his Jeep. This was in the '80s. He put on the "oldies" station and I groaned. I didn't want to listen to the oldies. Turn on 92 PRO FM and listen to Paula Abdul or New Kids on the Block! That wasn't going to happen so I listened to the "oldies" on my adventures with my grandfather. The anniversary of Marvin Gaye's death was April 1st and I remember hearing it announced on the radio and my mother being upset. Flip through her records (boy, do I wish I had those today!) and Marvin Gaye was one of her favorites.
These songs and artists were a part of my childhood. They remind me of my family. They are like comfort food or a nice cozy, warm blanket on a cold day. When I'm working at Stax and I hear these songs, I feel happy. I sing (when I'm alone) and I dance as I'm stacking books or straightening up the shelves. This music just fits me and Stax when I'm working there. I don't listen to early Motown at any other time. If I'm not listening to podcasts, I'm listening to my '80s or '90s music, Beyonce, Chance the Rapper, or something else my kids have introduced to me, like Kendrick Lamar.
Not sure what the personality of Stax will end up being. We are still figuring it out. More people are finding us though and we are truly grateful. Many people have told us what a risky endevour opening this store is and, believe me, we know that. My answer to those people is
Ain't No Mountain High Enough, we've got this
Don't Shop Around, come to Stax
We Ain't Too Proud to Beg
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
Heaven Must Have Sent You
When you need something to read, Reach Out, I'll Be There
I Second That Emotion of loving books
I get a Love Hangover from reading so many books
I Can't Help Myself
Mercy Mercy Me
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P.S. I consider it a good day when I've heard Got To Give It Up by Marvin Gaye and September by Earth Wind and Fire. And because you asked, my favorite podcast right now is Crime Writers On. Crime writers talk about true crime podcasts, documentaries, books, and they are hilarious! Check them out!