Movies: All Things Must Pass

This is a documentary about Tower Records. Are you old enough to know what Tower Records was (and still is in Japan)? I didn’t really know what it was until I went to college at UT Austin; there was a big Tower Records on “The Drag.”

The documentary does a good job of organizing the information. It talks to all the key players, including the late Russ Solomon, founder of Tower. Former employees sing the praises of the Tower Records “lifestyle.” The film takes us through the expansion… And then kind of rushes the collapse. It hesitates to criticize Solomon, instead blaming digital media and someone they hired to help them who apparently made decisions they say tanked the company. Former employees talk about having to be laid off from their 30+ year careers… tears in their eyes… and yet they still consider Russ Solomon to be (present tense, since Solomon was alive at the time of filming) some kind of godlike king. Which is just kind of weird to me? Almost cultish? Or maybe they’re just reliving their glory days, what they consider to be the best days of their lives?

Look, I had a job at a small family-owned shop when I was in college. (In fact, it was on The Drag.) And it was the best job I’ve ever had and am ever likely to have. Yes, even as a writer, I can say that. Because going to that job every day was like going to hang out with friends and family. The work was incidental. I never had a dread of going to work. I never thought, I wish I didn’t have to. I looked forward to it! So I can totally understand where these Tower Records folks are coming from.

But though the employees were hurt by Tower’s fate, Solomon wasn’t much. He still had stores in Japan, was still making money. And this is more or less skated over by the film.

I just… I had mixed feelings about this film. It’s really designed to praise Russ Solomon and Tower Records and say very little contrary to, “Wasn’t it great?” It’s a lot of nostalgia but not much else. It’s really well made, but the content is flimsy.