After "60 years serving Broadway, New York, and the World," the venerable Colony Music in Times Square is closing down. That's the word from JVNY reader Charles Hutchinson, who works at Academy Records. A call to Colony confirmed the bad news. They'll be around for a little while longer, but not too long.
Charles writes in: "Colony Records is closing next month. I'm heartsick when any unique business that promotes music, books, and culture in general gets forced out of this city. As someone who has spent some of his most joyful hours browsing in such shops, I dread the day when rents and the Internet flush them all out. No website that I can conceive of could possibly fill the role played by the late lamented Gotham Book Mart or (should it be forced to close) Downtown Music Gallery in this city's cultural life. Record Stores, despite all the vinyl-is-back hubbub, are proving to be as vulnerable as the next mom-&-pop in the Bloombergian Era."
I used to buy sheet music at Colony, and I could always go there to find a Broadway kind of soundtrack (Judy at Carnegie Hall was my last purchase), but what I love best about it are its dusty vitrines filled with faded memorabilia.
Girlie magazines, bottles of Elvis perfume, ticket stubs from forgotten Sinatra concerts, all of it is crammed behind glass, to be looked at but never touched.
While die-hard vinylists might see Colony as a tourist trap, overpriced and understocked, I always found it to be a respite from the Times Square stupidity, from the crowds of tourists hungry for the next Disney fix.
I could step inside and step back in time, to a quieter, more unusual place--where I might run into something odd, like a Sal Mineo Fan Club button.
One time, heading to Colony, I looked up at the Brill Building in which it stands to see Woody Allen at a window, looking down at me. It was a bit of a thrill, I must admit.
And I always loved the neon Colony girl. With her perky mid-century breasts and flippy skirt, she holds a record aloft (red and ringed, it looks like the burner on an electric stove--it is hot). With jubilation she proclaims, "I found it!"
Sometime in the mid 2000's Colony took down their wonderful old neon sign. As Lost City explained in 2007, "Colony took it down at the behest of an old landlord, who said it was violating some building code or other, one that had long been ignored. Colony did so. Then the building was sold and the new landlord didn't give a hoot if the sign was up or down. So Colony went to a lot of bother for nothing. Now Record Girl sits neglected in the basement."
A new version of the girl came back, but now she'll be vanishing for good.
I don't know why Colony is closing, but I can imagine. Times Square is not for antiques anymore. Everything that's not a global brand must go. Even a place loaded with our cultural history. As Colony's owner once told the Times, "James Brown took one look around and said, 'This smells like a music store.'" It still does.
Sixty years (and more) is a long time, but in the new New York, age matters nothing. Everything solid must be plowed under and replaced with something hollow. Imagine what will come next to this prime corner space. I can see the signs already: "Flagship Opportunity!"
really old sign