I grew up absolutely in love with music. Every cent I made, was given, or found went to buying CDs. I had a job at a record store as a teenager. Each paycheck went right back to the store. Even a half a lifetime later, I very vividly remember where I was when I got so many of the discs on that shelf. They were milestones in my life. Release days were a HUGE deal to me. I loved getting to the store at the moment it opened so that I could have new music in my hand as soon as it was possible. Once I was home with it playing I would read along to every lyric, study every picture. I would read the special thanks and credits. I knew every band members name. I knew who produced it. I knew who did the artwork. All of these things were important to me. Not just because I was a fan but because it could lead me to more music. I would track down the people in the credits and buy other things they did. That wasn't the big deal though. The big deal was the disc. Front to back... just the way it was made for me. I have some pretty awesome parents and they never made me turn it down. I would press play and just soak it in. Most of the time over and over. I loved hearing the entire record as it was recorded and arranged and shipped to me. I was getting the art the way that the artist hoped I was getting it. It was perfect.
Not much has changed for me in the last 25 years. I have been buying and listening to music very much the same way. Even though I have all of it on my computer and listen to it on random quite a bit, I still make sure that I listen to new CDs from front to back at least once and very often return to them in the same way. Growing up metal pushes quite hard for that. A large portion of metal records are done as concept discs and play out a story during the course of the record. I have transferred that over to all genres. I love the total effort. Even if there are some less choice tracks.... that is the art. That is what was happening in the artists life.
I like John Mayer a lot. I think that (beyond enjoying the music) the fact that I am just a couple of years younger than him makes his music mean a little more to me. The thought is by the time he releases a CD, I am the age he was when he wrote it. I can identify with what he has to say. The release represents a person and a time period. Without the entire piece you miss out on part of the said person. Part of the message/art is gone. I no longer relate on the same level. That sucks.
Which do you like better?
I don't think it's a very hard question to answer. Obviously, the entire Mona Lisa is much more enjoyable than just one little piece. You can argue that I just made a horrible example... I don't care. To me, making sure I accept a record the way that it was created is no different than looking at an entire canvas. The gravity of Pink Floyd's The Wall would forever be lost if we just listened to one tiny part. No different than Mona.
All of that being said (almost over and over), I can only assume that it is fairly obvious that being able to get those discs was pretty important as well. My local record stores were a staple of my youth. Bob-A-Lou's (RIP), Soundhole (RIP) and Plan 9 provided me with access to anything I could have ever wanted to buy. I spent enormous amounts of time in them as a teenager and continue to do so well into my adulthood. These were the landmarks of all of the milestones I mentioned earlier. Sadly, it is becoming more and more difficult to walk into a record store and find what I want or pick up something undiscovered. Physical retail record shops are dropping off the radar at an alarming pace. We more and more find ourselves purchasing music from online retailers. Either the disc or digital file. I am not okay with that. I certainly don't value the memory of buying something from Amazon as much as I do standing in line at midnight to get Pearl Jam's Vs. Right this second I am listening to the new Zee Avi record. It is amazing... but in 10 years if you ask me where I got it... I won't remember. Such a bummer. There is a decent documentary about the dying independent record store on Netflix. Check it out.
I Need That Record
I Need That Record
I love that people are buying music. I hate that stores are closing, but buying music is always good. The major issue I have is that people aren't buying full releases. The majority of music buyers are buying just a song or two from each release. We are looking at just that tiny little section of the Mona Lisa. Not just that, we are buying digital copies which are compressed. The quality is hardly comparable to what we had in the past. We are making huge steps in the wrong direction to ensure that music is still an art form that is treated with respect. When we show that we only care about a song or two then the "artists" will only care about a song or two. That is happening already. When we show we don't care for the same sonic quality, we won't get it. That too is happening. Music has changed as a result of the way we as consumers are treating. That breaks my heart.
I am not asking people to get up and go to the store to buy a disc that takes up way too much space. I am not asking people to not move forward with technology and convenience. I am asking people to make sure that we respect music as an art form in the same ways that we do photography, painting, writing, and dance. If we don't then we will lose the art. Go buy a album, CD, digital release... however you do it. Lay down in your bed. Turn it up, press play, close your eyes and listen. You may just be surprised at what you hear. The most recent Coldplay single says it all in the first verse.
I shut the world outside until the lights come on
Maybe the streets alight, maybe the trees are gone
I feel my heart start beating to my favourite song
If your argument starts with "but the entire cd is never good enough to buy" then you are listening to the wrong music. Sure it's okay to buy the latest Katy Perry single if you really want to. I would bet for your argument on that one. Just make sure you are (and continue to always) make the effort to find good, meaningful, immersive music to offset the crap. Crap which I hope that you have way less of than the good stuff.
Music has the power to shape your life. Give you hope when you need it, make you fall in love a little harder, or help you act like a kid again. Make sure you let it. No matter what I just said.