The Music and the Album Experience
I have always loved music. From as far back as I can remember I had something in my life that would play music. A portable radio (they called them “transistor” radios for a while), a record player, a boombox, a Walkman, a CD Walkman, an I Pod and a smartphone. I always loved my stereo system ( because at one time they had mono systems I guess). There was always music playing around me. In the background, in the foreground 🙂 in the car, at the beach near our house, at friends houses, parties, late night on the back porch.
There was one thing that really changed how I listened to music and made the difference on what I listen to today. I will show my age by saying this but for a while in time the “record album” was part of a renaissance of modern music that made listening to an artist or group different from before. It wasn’t just about one song (although that may be one of the reasons to listen to the album), it was about the complete experience of understanding the artists and their music and the atmosphere it brought when you would play several songs in a row by the same artists. Sort of why they called it an “LP” – long play record.
Since it was hard to skip through/scan through songs on a record without picking up the needle (amazing a sharp little thing that scraped along a groove in plastic), it was easier just to let the “side” play. One half of the album would play out its 4 or 5 selections and you would listen. And somewhere along that time you would get to know the artist better, and actually appreciate the songs that weren’t likely the hit-single playing on the radio. In some cases they all folded together into something that felt more like a drawing or painting of a mood.
And even now, as I scan through songs on the Internet or program selections or shuffle a playlist I still stop to wonder about those “other” songs. The one or two I missed because they were part of a more complete picture in sound. I could even get nostalgic about how the album cover and art were part of the experience. Don’t get me started about those albums that would include the words to the songs, or “liner” notes from fellow musicians who wanted to speak to the listener about their heroes and peers.
I am too much in a hurry now to sit through a whole album (or at least one side). Sometimes when a song doesn’t grab me in the first 10 seconds I hit the forward button and go on. Letting songs pass by without a passing thought.
Don’t get me wrong. Theres something to be said for technology allowing us to experience new and different artists online, streaming or downloading musicians you may never have heard before – when record companies had to pick and choose for you. But that album from the artist that fought their way to the label had character as a “physical thing” to be collected, and replayed and shared with friends as an experience.
You’ve just reminded me how we used to call portable radios “transistor radios.” I used to have a few vinyls, not nearly as many as you mention you have, but eventually everything was replaced with Cd’s. I wish I had held on to them. Thanks for the memory jog.
I still have music playing all around me, mainly because I have over 55,000 digital music files. I watch mostly sports but can’t tolerate the announcers, so I’ll play music with the TV sound turned off. I go through about 15 hours of music each day, none of it twice since I listen to all of it in chronological order.
Wow. I have over 1200 vinyl albums but don’t have a turntable plugged in to play them. You have me beat. Only have about 22,000 music files. I do have them sorted a bit, depending on my frame of mind when I get to listening to them.
When I left Texas in 1993 for an unknown place at the time, I had 5,500 vinyl albums and 200 CDs. I never went back to Texas and my two office managers sold the vinyl albums to a store in Austin. I had abaout 100 CDs with me and I think they kept the other 100.
In 2007 I had accumulated over 5,000 CDs, and since digital files were hitting their stried (Napster, etc.), I decided to strip all the CDs and then sell them. Now I have 0 vinyls, 0 CDs, 0 DVDs, and several terabytes of digital music.
I like it better this way. My music room now has a grand piano in it instead of walls and walls of albums and CDs.