By Nadine Levyfield, 15, Eagle Rock HS
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The first time I went to Amoeba Music was about four years ago, with my dad. I had heard about “the music store with everything” from my best friend, who said that its vast collection of CDs would amaze me, but I had no idea what to expect.

I was sick of thumbing through lame mall music stores and over-priced megastores trying to find CDs they didn’t have. My jaw dropped the first time I stepped inside Amoeba on Sunset Boulevard. I stared at the music posters (The Beatles, The Clash, Madonna, virtually any critically acclaimed or influential band) that cover every inch of space high on the walls. I saw a huge room with what seemed like never-ending aisles of music. Rock CDs are on the ground floor, divided between used and new. A separate room for classical and jazz is in the back, behind a stage and the vinyl record section. Folk is on the west wall, oddly placed near electronica, and rap and R&B are up front. I didn’t know where to go first.

I walked dazed through all the aisles, just taking it in. I remember noticing CDs from bands that I’d never heard of, that sounded like the names of cartoon characters, like  Modest Mouse or Peaches or even the Velvet Underground. Then I went upstairs and saw soundtracks, DVDs and videos, and stations where customers could listen to almost any title in stock. I was blown away by the selection, and slightly intimidated by the hipster clerks, especially the ones wearing the band pins, with the messy hair and tight pants, who seemed to exude their extensive music knowledge.

I walked around for about an hour, browsing, and I bought the Red Hot Chili Peppers Greatest Hits album (used, for less than $10) which was a relief to a friend. I’d been borrowing her CD for months. I’m pretty sure that was the only thing I bought that day, because I was there so long that I got distracted and couldn’t remember what else I wanted. When I found Amoeba I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole and discovering Wonderland.

Over the years I’ve discovered unbelievable music including the Unicorns’ Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?, an upbeat, indie treasure from the now-defunct band; the Garden State soundtrack, which reinforced my love for the Shins and artfully mixed, mellow songs; the Moving Units EP, which is danceable, catchy and perfect for late night drives; and the Dazed and Confused soundtrack, which appropriately accompanies one of the best stoner movies ever.

The best music isn’t on the radio

Since first setting foot in Amoeba I’ve evolved from the over-awed intimidated kid I was at the time. I was only 12 and listened to KROQ and alternative rock like Blink-182 and random pop songs from the radio because that was the only music I had been exposed to. Over time I learned more about music and started listening to different bands and discovered that I hate KROQ. It occasionally plays music I like, but generally plays bands I can’t stand like Linkin Park. I got more into indie rock bands like Interpol and Broken Social Scene, alternative bands like the Pixies and Radiohead, and classic stuff like The Doors and Jimi Hendrix. I love Bob Marley, Weezer, David Bowie and the Smashing Pumpkins, even though reggae, nerdy alternative, glam rock and grunge are all very different genres.

I’ve also learned that as much as my friends try to persuade me otherwise, I hate the wailing depressiveness of Blonde Redhead and the headache-inducing music of !!! (that’s the band’s name).  And I’ve learned to approach the Amoeba employees, who’ve proved to be very helpful. Though at first they seem pretentious, they are incredibly resourceful. After all, they love music and want to spread that love by sharing their expertise.

Amoeba is not only a music experience, but also a venue for people—watching. Sure, you see your share of scene kids and alternative couples coming in to buy whatever they heard on Indie 103.1, but you can also spot former hippies with their kids, searching for previously unreleased Grateful Dead records. Music geeks buy obscure CDs almost in jest with the employees, trying to prove they know enough about music to apply for a job at Amoeba. Pre-teens in braces come in searching for a CD to help them figure out what they love to listen to, beginning their musical journey. I was one of those kids; I listened to Nirvana’s Nevermind every day in seventh grade. Though the customers are eclectic, we all have something in common—we love music.

I swear the laws of science are defied at Amoeba, because although the line is always incredibly long, it always moves so fast. Amoeba is the one place you’ll be able to find whatever you’re in the mood for. I appreciate its unique culture and can practically draw a floor map of it with my eyes closed. And yes, I use an Amoeba tote bag as my backpack. But there are worse things to be a walking advertisement for.

Amoeba Music
6400 Sunset Blvd.
between Cauhenga Boulevard and Ivar Avenue