I know, it’s too easy to click a button and download a song into iTunes or stream something on Pandora or Spotify, but there’s a real “feel good” feeling about spending time in a record store – especially on Record Store Day, which is on April 21.
As the big chains have cut back on compact discs or eliminated them altogether, and with independent record stores falling off the map, Melodies & Memories is one of those places that’s preserving the days of rock and roll. Dan Zieja and his brother-in-law Gary Koral run – well, actually curate – the four-storefront-large shop in Eastpointe that’s packed with new and used vinyl and compact discs. My oldest son and I have found some really hard-to-find albums. (Looking for Was (Not Was’) “Born to Laugh at Tornadoes” on vinyl? I found it there.) I once spent a couple of hours in there a few years ago with an old boyfriend who has very deep and eclectic list of favorites, and he was unable to stump Zieja and Koral’s inventory.
But it’s not just about music on discs. Melodies and Memories carries a ton of rock memorabilia – some of it original and some of it not for sale. If you look closely on some of the walls, you’ll find some hand-written mots and signatures from some of Detroit’s rock idols. There are some reproductions of concert posters from the 1960’s from two of the giants of rock poster history, Gary Grimshaw and Carl Lundgren (Most of Lundgren’s original work was destroyed in a fire and he has replicated most of his work for new prints.) There are also signed photographic prints by Leni Sinclair.
One of Sinclair’s prints I bought for my oldest son was a photograph of The Grateful Dead from August 1967.
“They had played a concert in West Park in Ann Arbor and it had rained the night before and the stage, made of concrete, was wet,” Sinclair told me in an interview in September 2012. “If you look closely, the musicians are standing on towels and Bob Weir is standing barefooted on an American flag. The next day, the Ann Arbor News ran the photo with the headline: ‘Rock band desecrates the American flag.’ Bob Weir was standing on it to save his life. That flag kept him from getting electrocuted.”
“They’re period pieces of artists even kids today are interested in – Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, the MC5. They’re the godfathers of rock music that are relevant today.” Zieja says.
Music, collectibles and art. It’s what keeps the few record stores like Melodies & Memories alive and it’s proof that rock and roll will never die.
“We have a very broad and deep selection of music and cater to a niche market,” Koral says. “People who collect music don’t want to download Miles Davis’ ‘Kind of Blue’ or the Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’ – they want the CD.”
Melodies & Memories is located at 23013 Gratiot Avenue in Eastpointe.