The big day fast approaches and I have to admit, this has been very exciting, exhausting at times and ultimately, hopefully worthwhile. But of course, this Cassette Store Day divides opinion.
Cassette Store Day is the 27th September and there are many gigs from 5pm at The Last Word Saloon at 44 St Stephen Street just across the road.
The bloody referendum…
I’d like to add the record shop point of view to the debate (I don’t have anything to say on the bigger politics that has not been said already). The debate has been fierce but overall in good humour and I’ve been posting the odd item in favour of a Yes vote on Facebook and Twitter as that is my personal preference. I posted a link to a Guardian article by George Monbiot on Twitter which led to a chap telling me he was going to boycott the shop. I have since been a little uneasy about saying anything publicly as I certainly don’t wish to lose any customers. For example I put up a Green Yes poster on Saturday and I don’t think we had any Orangemen in despite the reported influx. Keeping politics and business separate seems a sensible idea.
Usually, but in a once in a lifetime debate…
In this case, does a wee Edinburgh record shop have a role to play in the big debate?
Oh yes, if large businesses, millionaires and celebrities on all sides are allowed to wade in then I suppose here is the place for my tuppence worth. I don’t honestly think independence will change the VoxBox shop much at all in the short term. That’s it. Over the longer term, a VAT reduction for arts/music sales would be nice and perhaps even achievable. Would independence offer greater protection to small shops from Amazon? Maybe aye, maybe no. The White Paper did suggest support for medium and small businesses… All a bit vague. Corporation tax going down would help a bit too but I don’t mind paying my share. A record collecting MP might come to the shop one day… and I’ll get a record museum… and I’d be really happy then; seems a bit far fetched.
Under devolution, the current SNP policy of the Small Business Bonus has helped keep many small shops open up and down Scotland and indeed without it, I’d have to have a very long think about keeping the shop open. I might decide to sell it to Wetherspoons. The Small Business Bonus is a really handy piece of legislation that devolution has delivered and shows the SNP in a fairly good light. Without it, the recent financial disaster would have been a complete Scottish town centre and St Stephen’s Street small business disaster. But of course, the referendum is not a vote for the SNP at all and I’m not a fan of baby-kissing party politics.
In the future? Well, no side has made any claims about the benefits of independence to record shops let alone to the broader music industry of bands, labels, venues and festivals or even the remaining HMVs in Scotland. I do think Independence would be good for the arts. It’s telling that so many creative people prefer to vote Yes. The vast majority I’d think. There has even been a petition for Yes signed by over 1400 Scottish artists.
Scotland’s largest record label, Chemikal Underground is pro Yes. Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite is particularly eloquent and Edinburgh’s only full time record label Song, by Toad wrote a massive piece supporting Yes the other day.
Mogwai have played a pro Yes show on this Sunday past at the Usher Hall; “A Night For Scotland” with Franz Ferdinand, Frightened Rabbit Eddie Reader and the fabulous Stanley Odd among others.
The number of Yes bands seemed to outnumber the no bands by a great deal so yesterday I started a Yes shelf, a maybe shelf and no shelf all depending on what was in stock. I ran out of room very quickly for the Yes side. Edwyn Collins and Kid Canaveral and Adam Stafford should be there too.
Fence founder, King Creosote is a notable No which is very slightly ironic as his new album from Scotland With Love looks like a beautiful piece of Nationalist propaganda. It has sold really well as a beautiful album should. Fellow Ex-Fence records Fifer James Yorkstone says Yes.
By far the majority of music people I know have been enthusiastic for Yes, I have to say that there are a load of not-saying bands too. From the Yes/No/Dunno shelf it’s clear that more musicians are for independence than against by a huge margin. When letting in musicians from the rest of the UK for the No side you get flooded with the likes of Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Cilla Black, Cliff Richard, Bob Geldof and Gordon Sting which feels like a really inappropriate Band Aid appeal. Only Bono and George Michael are missed.
So I was thinking that if the VoxBox shop as a business interested in only in itself had to vote, what would it do… and decided that it would vote the way of the majority of the bands we work with.
With that in mind, the politics…
The idea that a Scottish parliament would have voted to go to war with Iraq strikes me as absurd although the leaders of the No campaign, Alistair Darling, Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy did all vote on our behalf for the Iraq war to happen despite the largest protest march in UK history asking them to not. Referendum and music aside, these are either warmongers or idiots.
Would the rest of the UK have went to war without Scotland? Maybe… Probably even. Who could know? You can bet it would have been less likely.
I do think the world will be a little bit safer with a weakened rUK military. I certainly want as little to do as possible with an economy based on arms sales and selling torture equipment to dictators. If that makes me poorer, I deserve to be poorer. It seems fairly simple ethics in my child-like brain and it transcends the business of selling records. But it would be wrong to say that music hasn’t influenced my thinking.
Not the Corries’ Flower of Scotland, not Frankie Miller’s Caledonia or even Deacon Blue’s Dignity.
Dylan was spot on with Masters of War in 1963 when he pilloried arms manufacturers.
Lennon was right to Imagine a dream where War is over if you want it.
Bob Marley told folk to Get Up Stand Up.
John Lydon said Rise.
There are so so so many.
Prior to them, the great Pete Seeger singing the most important verse in a song for a much greater struggle. “We are not afraid.”
Are these naïve and childish songs? No I don’t think so. I took these songs seriously when I was a lithe young chap and I do more so now. So I have great hope and that we’ll come out of this a better country. Independence offers less war and protection from economic decline.
Meanwhile what I hope Independence will bring is a nearness, literally and culturally, to the politicians that actually have the power to help change your life and those less well off for the better.
So it’s a yes. And a declaration that I am not afraid of independence. At all.
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