Saltmarsh’s Was New Bedford’s Best Place to Buy New Music
While recently searching for used books at Savers, one of the area's secondhand shops, I stumbled upon something that brought back some memories. Several shelves in the store contained items pertaining to music, many types of music. It made me recall some of the various ways we've listened to music over the years.
My introduction to music as a small child in the early 1960s was most likely via the radio. Folks listened to the radio a lot back then, in the home and the car. There was no MTV, no MP3s or earbuds, and things like Spotify, Youtube, Amazon Music, and all the rest were unimaginable at that point.
There were albums back then. My parents had many albums, 33 RPM and 78 RMP, and the living room stereo even had a setting for 16 RMP, although I don't ever recall seeing a 16 RMP record. There were also 45 RMP records, usually with one song on either side, though some might have two.
As a teenager, I collected the Top 40 hits on 45s and bought albums, too. I would ride the SRTA bus down Acushnet Avenue in the near North End to Music Box for the latest in new music. You could also buy concert tickets at Music Box before tickets were available only online. Music Box had all of the latest hits and would offer handouts listing the week's Top 40 songs.
Saltmarsh's in downtown New Bedford was the best place for buying new music. What was different about Saltmarsh's was it had soundproof booths with turntables where you could sample the 45 RMPs before deciding whether to buy them.
Imagine taking a 45 RPM off the wall and listening to it in your private soundproof booth before plunking down 72 cents to buy it.
All of that changed however when large department stores and the Dartmouth Mall came to the area, making stores such as Music Box and Saltmarsh's were less relevant. Eight-track and cassette tapes were increasingly popular but were eventually replaced by compact discs. Today, almost all music is digital and you can fit hundreds of albums right in your back pocket with room to spare.
Like many people, I have repurchased favorite albums several times through the years. We began with albums, went to 8-tracks and cassettes, and then CDs. Changing music formats that way was expensive, not to mention the cost of replacing stereos with tape and CD players and now digital music players.
Digital music is certainly more convenient and you can't beat the sound but there was something about an album with liner notes that cannot be replaced.
How many different music formats did you buy over the years? Which was your favorite? Where did you shop for music back in the days?