I miss records.

Last week we were out on the town for a little dinner at Cappycino’s and out of the corner of my eye I saw something. At the table next to us there were three young people - two girls and a guy. They were all attractive college kids home for the holidays. The girls were equally tall and blonde, wearing similar outfits featuring extremely short skirts and high-heeled shoes that rival those of Lady Gaga. The guy with them was dressed much more casually - sport shirt, jeans, and Sperry topsiders, no socks. He was probably there for the girls’ support, in case one of them fell off the scaffolding, er, I mean fell off of one of those death-defying shoes. In any case, I was mesmerized as both girls focused on the iPhones and double-thumbed texted with lightning-quick speed. It made me pause for a second to consider the "state of the art" of everything. Those iPhones are their personal computers and entertainment centers. It’s a phone book, address book, road map, encyclopedia, and sound system. Their ease with the 4S technology reminded me of something: I miss records.



I have seventeen days’ worth of music in my iTunes library. Some of the songs are near and dear, but some of them I barely know. A long, long time ago when I bought the LPs of The Eagles’ "Hotel California" and Linda Ronstadt’s "Prisoner In Disguise," I was able to lie on the bed in my dorm room and listen to the albums while holding the album jacket and the album sleeve. I could read the liner notes and learn who wrote the songs and who actually made the music - I could know who played rhythm guitar as well as who sang backing vocals. I loved that. It’s hard to establish that same sort of closeness or connection to the music in my iTunes library.

Long before that my parents would put a stack of records on the stereo record changer. That stack would create a soundtrack - a background of music for the card and/or domino games on any given night. The tunes were from diverse sources: "Fats Domino Swings," "The Platters’ Golden Hits," Billy Vaughan’s "Sail Along Silv’ry Moon," or maybe something by Floyd Cramer.


Years down the road we all started listening to compact cassettes. These things were small tapes in small packages with teeny tiny liner notes. The packaging was so small that some of the information that might have been included in the larger LP jacket and sleeve was omitted. Similarly, when CDs became the medium we used to enjoy music, we seemed to know even less about who arranged the strings on Melissa Manchester’s "Singin’" album. (James Newton-Howard.) The child of a friend was in our home recently and saw the shelves of CDs and observed, "Wow. These are old."




And now we’ve come to a place where we can listen to 30 or 60 or 90 seconds of a song on iTunes before we decide to click on the "Buy" button and add it to our library. If it something new, we may know only the artist’s name and the song title and maybe the "album" it comes from. And maybe that’s as much as we need to know. Why bother with useless stuff like writing credits or lyrics or the names of studio musicians. Maybe the music should be enjoyed for its pure aural pleasure. I remember the kids on American Bandstand would evaluate a new song by saying, "It’s got a good beat," or "It’s easy to dance to." That’s good enough for me. But I still miss records.


Comments

  1. Plus, punching a button at dark:thirty in the morning wouldn't have been nearly as fun as cueing up an LP at KHDX...

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  2. We still have the Eagles - Hotel California and Linda Ronstadt's - Prisoner in Disguise now Sarah listens to them along with Pink Floyd, Leonard Skinard and others....we have a turntable in our room but I don't think the arm is weighted enough because it skips when it hits the scratches.

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