Photography, Road Trips, Stories Told

A visit to Headstone’s

Every time I go back to Terre Haute I try to at least drive by Headstone Friends. It’s a record store in the late-60s head-shop tradition. I spent a lot of money here in the late 80s when I was in college. Pretty much every dollar I earned at my part-time job, less whatever it cost me to eat Saturday and Sunday nights when campus food service was shut down, was traded here for music.

Headstone's in Terre Haute

Minolta XG 1, 45mm f/2 MD Rokkor, Fujicolor 200

I was sad to find the shop’s exterior mural and sign to have deteriorated so. Contrast it to this photo I made in 2008, when I first wrote about this place. But inside everything was as it ever was: used records in the back in boxes perched on stacks of cinder blocks, cases full of CDs lining the walls up front, music blaring, dimly lit. The water fountain still doesn’t work and the room of black-light posters is still black-lit.

Headstone Friends

Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom

Hey, check it out, there’s my lamented, lost red Matrix. I was driving the blue Matrix this time; you can see its tail in the first photo. Or, rather, my youngest son was driving. We’re practicing driving toward his license and this day we burned down a solid three hours driving to, around, and from Terre Haute. It was a nice day together. And I was thrilled to share Headstone’s with him. I know he didn’t get it, but I tried to explain it to him anyway: how important music was (and is) to me, how most used records were $2 (indeed, many of them are still), and how I amassed a fabulous music collection on the cheap here. As long as Headstone’s keeps going, I’ll make occasional pilgrimages.

Incense burns constantly at Headstone’s. And they still carry the hard-to-find stuff. That stuff isn’t as hard to find today thanks to the Internet, but I still found a CD I’ve been looking for: a four-song live set Paul McCartney did in 2007, called Amoeba’s Secret. And even now, weeks later, the CD’s cardboard sleeve smells like Headstone’s. And so did we, all the way home.

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11 thoughts on “A visit to Headstone’s

  1. So cool it’s still there, I did exactly the same thing, all my money went to tapes. Fortunately a cool record store is nearby me and I’m still sinking money in collecting vinyl, love that feeling of finding a beautiful original pressing. Wishing I would have bought more vinyl back then though.

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    • The late 80s were totally the time to build a great vinyl collection cheaply. I got rid of my vinyl in about 2003 and only sort of regret it. I still have CDs but really, my whole music collection fits in my phone now and that is sooooo convenient.

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      • I do love the convenience of the phone, I subscribe to Apple Music as well which makes it great when I remember a song or band I haven’t heard in a while. We really experienced quite a change through the years going from owning a transistor radio to Walkman to cd and now digital. Pretty neat, I like telling my kids stories of the “old” days!

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  2. It’s nice that a place like this survives. Last October, I went back to the little town I grew up in back East. My favorite record shop was long gone. Bought so many LPs, 45s and black light posters there. sigh

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    • The people who own it probably just eke out a living at it, but I feel sure they own the building, so the overhead has got to be mighty, mighty low. They moved in here in 1973, I think.

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  3. Ron says:

    My favorite used record store was “Been Around Records” close to UALR in Little Rock. Still around, in fact. I’ll still occasionally pick up some vinyl at an estate sale, thrift store, etc. The tactile feel of a real record is to me the way a lot of people feel about printed books, newspapers, etc.

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    • I sort of miss vinyl. Not enough to get back into it, though. I decided to shut that door. But putting a record on the turntable was an event that playing a CD or plugging my iPhone into speakers will never be.

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  4. DougD says:

    Nice they can still make a go of it. Our town had a Grateful Dead store for many years, but they closed up around 2000 when the area got trendy and rents rose. I appreciated having it in town, but once we’d bought our Nepalese llama sweaters there wasn’t much else in the inventory we needed.

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    • I bought a lovely tie-dyed shirt at Headstone’s going on 10 years ago now. I wear it but once or twice a summer, so it is still reasonably fresh. The rents are never going to rise in Headstone’s neighborhood so they’re good for as long as they want to keep doing this.

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  5. Heather Doncaster says:

    Love your Headstone posts. I frequented this icon circa ’89-’93 while an ISU student and have very fond memories of the quirky, dimly lit, heavily incensed, stacks upon stacks of records store. It was a treat to spend a few hours reprieve inside going through the vinyl/cds to find that perfect album you never knew was missing in your life. Also, I greatly enjoyed just rambling around in my car and visiting so many amazing small towns on those weekends when there was not much else to do. Good times!

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    • I was still in TH during those years, working for a software company and being a disk jockey on WZZQ part time. The guys at Headstones all knew me then. It was fun to go in and get recognized like Norm at Cheers!

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