December 10

Muzak Heaven: Kmart In-Store Music, 1974


Now this is what I’m talking about. This is the music from my childhood Christmas retail shopping experiences in the 70’s, and I’ll bet it was yours as well. This is an in-store cassette that was played at Kmart stores during the holiday season in 1974, and it is glorious. This is a wild time capsule back to one of the strangest decades mankind has ever seen.

Personally, my parents didn’t shop much at Kmart. We were much more of a Montgomery Ward, Meijer Thrifty Acres kind of family. Going back even farther, I have faint memories of being dragged through places long gone, places like Wurzburg’s, Turn-Style, and Herpolsheimers. Whatever the store, back in the day, they all played music pretty much just like this Kmart tape.

Unlike today, where stores use ‘original recordings from the original stars,’ back in the day most large retail chains created their own in-store musical soundtracks, peppered with announcements and advertisements. Companies like Muzak and DMX recorded their own versions of the hit songs of the day, as well as using recordings from top ‘easy-listening’ artists of the day, then sold their services to retailers. Christmas time was definitely no exception…The results are on full display in this glorious two hour video; it’s pure easy-listening ephemera straight from the heart of the 70’s.

Thanks go to the efforts of Tom Schwarzrock, who preserved this in-store tape from store #3405 Lake street in Minneapolis, MN, where he worked as a department manager in the 1970’s. He not only had the foresight to hang on to these old tapes, he took the time to digitize and upload them for the world to experience. I love this kind of cultural ephemera, stuff that was created to be experienced at the time, and then forgotten. Lucky for us, it hasn’t been forgotten.

This is elevator music heaven. It’s 1974, and Christmas is right around the corner…keep an eye out for the blue light, there’s lots of great deals to be had. Oh, and remember, “Smoking is not permitted on the sales floor. For your safety and convenience, smoking is permitted only at the snack bar.”

Not enough for ya? Want some more? Check out THIS page, where you’ll find in-store Kmart recordings from 1989 through 1993.

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Posted December 10, 2015 by in category "Christmas", "Ephemeral", "History", "Holidays", "Miscellaneous", "Music", "The 70's", "YouTube Video


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