The Happy Aggravation of Innovation

In Columns, Music

My album collection was modest. Around 200, if you throw in a couple of 45′s. More than some people, but not as much as others. Still, vinyl records were the rage of the seventies. There was nothing like the hiss and crackle from the turntable needle. Playing the first side, then flipping it over to finish with side 2. 33 1/3rd rpm. Man, I miss that.

It wasn’t enough that I had the best of one world, I would get in my vehicle, and throw in an 8 track tape. Yea! Jamming in my car with some of the same music, (I possessed in album form) in my room. Then, ka-chunk. The changing of the track. Another weird sound that I strangely loved, but don’t know why. I would gladly pay the price of today’s concert tickets to hear that sound again. 8 track tapes would slowly give way to the smaller, more convenient, cassette tape. Causing millions of us to replace not only our entire 8 track collections but eventually our vinyl as well. Curse you, Sony Walkman!

That’s right. Almost everything I had in album form and 8 track had to be replaced with a cassette. They were not that bad. No crackling, no skipping scratches, still the hiss. This time in between songs. Play one side and you could turn the tape over to play side two. Ah. Old times. In my home and car. My tape collection was larger than my album library. New bands and my loyalty to the classics ballooned my holdings of taped music. I had so many, that I am sure I could go to the hall closet and dig out a few, even today.

I remember when I first read about them. Discovery magazine I think. A new item could change the way we listen to music. Crisper, clearer, more dynamic than ever. Hear instruments you never heard before in songs you have heard before. That clear. Wow, what is it! The Compact disc. Music lovers are going to be in heaven. Music digitally recorded on foil and pressed onto a plastic disc. Read by a laser, listeners couldn’t believe their ears when they put these circular discs into the player we all had to buy. Here we go again. Slowly, I started buying what was available at first. Only new acts were appearing to be available on CD at first. Then it happened. Frampton Comes Alive! My favorite album, then my favorite cassette, and now finally, my favorite CD. I raise my Bic lighter in the air too, ‘Do You Feel Like We Do’, every time. It still continues. Buy everything. Again.

Building my CD collection is not as easy than say, buying tapes. Availability of what I used to have and the costs today hamper my efforts to restore the days of yesteryear. Ten CDs alone would have paid for my entire record collection.

Now, we can download, (digitally mind you) songs to our computer hard drive, then upload into iPods and such. Convenience at it’s best. Crisp and clear, with no caffeine. Oh wait, that’s Sprite. Regardless, music lovers have it as good as it gets. If you wonder like I do then we have to ask ourselves. How is the music industry going to evolve from the CD? Hard to imagine, but it looks like I am going to have to buy Peter’s masterpiece. Whatever form it will be. Maybe a micro-chip implant right next to the ear. Plugs in like a chip from a computer and, wham, music sent right to your brain. Vibrating the brain and releasing the head-banger to us all. This from a file card the size of our thumbnail, a whole array of our favorite music. Only no earphones. Who knows. Could be. I probably gave someone out there a good idea, but just remember. You heard it here first. Glad and mad through the eighties, nineties, and today. Innovation… you frustrate me. And yet, you thrill me.   (PWNO)

Jeff Payne

blogger, photographer, consumer

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