I fall into that age range where technology for plenty of things changed dramatically during the course of my childhood. Being born in 1972, homes didn’t have computers, or VCRs/DVDs. Music was going between this tug of war between records and 8 track cassettes, later won by small more portable cassette tapes. Some friend would beg their parent to take them to the store and pick up an ALBUM! Then race home, peel off the plastic wrap that kept the cardboard packaging free from dust, moisture, the grubby fingerprints of too many people trying to decide if this one wasn’t scratched. It isn’t about missing the records themselves, although I do fall into the camp of people who to this day believe that vinyl is sonicly superior. But I miss sitting around with a bunch of people having that first listen to the album.
Casting aside the John Denver and The Muppets album which very well might have been the first record to hit my player, the first album I ever bought was Punk Floyd’s The Wall. Having heard parts of it playing while sitting out in left field at a baseball practice, the loudspeakers blasting it for the half-dozen or so fields to hear in unison. I understand the themes much better now, but listening to 7 year olds screaming about not needing any education and that their teachers should leave them alone must have been a riot. I here my nephew in my head while typing this and it would have me in tears on the floor witnessing something similar. He already sings the Foo Fighters, even the not so pleasant words! Bad adult influence his uncle can be…
But I can think of Def Leppard, Duran Duran, The Police, blasting through my house while my friends and I sat around trying to pick apart the music. Some having started to learn guitar or something they could replicate the notes on. Might be why I started listening to more progressive music like Genesis or Yes where I could join in on the keyboards! Sitting there as a group having this shared experience, knowing that if asked they would be able to tell you who they were with when they first heard a song.
You can’t get that with a playlist from iTunes or Spotify. Updating the ways in which we hear music is fine, but sitting around with headphones on losses the smiles and exhilaration people feel hitting the person on the arm yelling “Did you hear that sick guitar riff?” Trying to be heard while someone walks back and restarts the section. I think that’s how most of my tapes ended up being trashed over time, pressing pause too many times while we tried to copy some artist.
My stereo can play all of those things. It has all the latest internet stations and can stream from my phone. But the sound isn’t anywhere as nice as it once was. Maybe my mind thinks the tracks sounded better because of some really nice record needle my parents had bought me? I wonder now if it was because those tracks sounded great because the room had a few other people in it trying to be heard over the notes as they blasted from the speakers. You know, those giant wooden types that are the size of a small refrigerator. They still are in my house, I’ve rebuilt the cones and cleaned all of the wiring.
Technology has replaced that, now my friends send an email asking if I picked up some download. I really wish we still were sitting on the couch/floor enjoying that music, together.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Going Obsolete.”