Listen to the Music!

Hello all and again thank you all so much for your comments on my posts. It is very gratifying to get your responses, to know that many people share the passion of great music. I was going to offer a post on CD players, however my mission today is somewhat different. Today, I would like to as you all to stop for a few minutes and think about how in some instances our music has changed.

My passion for music began in the 60’s, a great era for wonderful tunes. Motown, The Beatles and Stones and all the great groups from “across the pond”, Roy Orbison, Gene Vincent and their ilk.  At that stage in my life, music was all about rock. I liked how it made me feel! As time progressed and work part-time became part of my life, I now had money, collecting my favourite pieces of music became a ritual. Once or twice a month I would trek with my friends to the local music store in my quest for a new album. We would spend time pawing through the racks of records to find our “holy grail” of music, enjoy a lunch – usually fries and a coke, then rush back to one of the group’s homes and prepare for a few hours of listening.

As in most cases 3 or more albums were purchased, we would spend the afternoon grooving to the new tunes, memorizing the album art, the performing artists, critiqueing the music and generally share the new sound that we purchased.

I am now on “the wrong side of 60”, Can’t do all the things I did in my younger years, usually fall asleep during movies ( Oh wait a minute – I did that then too! ), but my passion for music is greater now than in my earlier years.  I find myself listening to new artists and genres enjoying wider ranges of music. I now have the time – like I did in my youth, to sit and enjoy my music as in the early days. My issue now is that it the social aspect of music is not really there. Now, many of us download a new tune from the web, listen to it on our digital music player, but the only way to share is either with a docking system, or using two sets of headphones.

Why do I like complete albums or cds, because in some ways they are like a book. When we download a song, we are simply listening to a few paragraphs or perhaps a chapter in the book. We don’t get the whole story or entire thought pattern of the artists who created the album. Could you imagine reading only a few passages from a book?

With an album, we are provided with great cover art, a comprehensive list of performers, where the music was recorded, what date it was recorded and usually a few thoughts or description of the recording venue. On a download, you get a tune but no background as to who performed (yes, I know there is a very brief description, but nothing of true value like) who guest performers were, or what the venue was or even why the artist wanted to write that tune.

Please understand that downloaded music truly has it’s place. We all made cassettes or compilation cds to enjoy while we studied, travelled in the car, vacationed or enjoyed a backyard party. It is much more difficult to take a cd player to the gym or play your hi-fi in the car. Perhaps downloading is the best source yet for making uninterrupted music. However as a stand alone source, I have some concerns.

Music is to share! One of the great honours that we have is introducing a friend or colleague to a new artist or your favourite album. Music is to revel in the passion of the artist. Well reproduced, music can give you goosebumps or make you weep. Music creates emotion. We dance to it, relax to it, make love to it, try to do these things with headphones. Yes you can do it, but the passion and experience is not shared, but all about the individual.

Share your music, listen to the story, read the album notes. It’s all a wonderful way to enjoy the passion of music!

Finally… what prompted this column is that regardless of the publication, the subject seems to be the death of CDs. Perhaps sales are slowing, perhaps this is a cycle. Please remember that LPs were going to be dead by the late 1980’s. The quest for vinyl has never been stronger than now.  The CD format is still being perfected. New generations of cd players are “head and shoulders” better than just a few years ago. A “damn good” CD player can be purchased for well under $1000.00 Cdn.

Downloading music, particularly albums will not go away, but as was the cd format in the 80’s, Digital streaming is in the early days. Even if the cd format only lasts another 5 years, are you going to forgo the pleasure of listening to the music that you own, for the convenience of a new format in the very early stages that you have stored in your computer?  Just some food for thought! GC