|Perspective On Albums
||[Apr. 3rd, 2013|06:20 am]
Having just watched the documentary below, I feel like I have some better perspective on why it is that I’m always directing young music fans back to a very specific area of time when the music was, in my opinion, better.
Sometimes I’m tempted to think this is probably just my opinion, because that just also happens to be the period of time when I was growing up. But now I feel a reassurance that it’s not just the connections to my personal experiences that gives me more of an ear for that stuff, but there are actual, documentable reasons why the music was better – particularly in the sense of music that you actually sit down and listen to.
The main reason is that the music of that time was meant to be sat down and listened to, studied, contemplated, digested. When you think about the area of time this documentary focuses on, rock albums were something akin to Classical Music. Even the simplest of artists were in mind to create art, because they knew they were going to have somebody’s undivided attention for 40 minutes or more. But this era of classical thinking was only prominent for 10 years or so. And that’s why you find the best-selling albums in history concentrated mainly in that 10 year period between the mid 60’s and the mid 70’s.
Beyond that point life changed. Heavy thinking was out and portability was in. And things have just kept going in that direction until there is really no need for grand stereo systems, at least not for music listening. Big sound systems are for TVs and video systems now. Music is for iPads and computer speakers. No High Fidelity required. And certainly nothing is wanted in the music that would encourage anyone to want to just stop and listen to it. It’s just there to keep you motivated while you’re doing something else.
To my regret, I have kept pace with time and pop culture, for the most part. So today I am as far removed from the musical mindset of the 70’s as today’s music. I do not have my room set up for music listening. It’s set up for computer work. And even when I’m playing vinyl, which is all I play these days, I use a 10 LP changer rather than getting up to change the record every 20 minutes. Which means I’m using these old albums that were meant to be directly listened to as background music. I’m not getting as much out of them as in the days when I would sit perfectly centered between the speakers and do nothing but visualize the music as it played.
Actually, I get just as much, if not more, out of the basic 2 and 3 minute forms of Rock and Jazz music, because they are very motivating. This is probably why I collect more Swing and 50’s Rock & Roll these days than Progressive Art Rock.
Actually, I’ve had Laurie Anderson’s last album sitting here for over a year, but have never played it, because that is something that demands a sit down study, and I’ve just not felt free to indulge that way. Also, they tell me Rush has a new concept album out, but I’m in no rush to get it, because the thought of an album demanding an hour of my concentration meets considerable resistance from my computer era habits.
I think it’s really groovy to look on YouTube and see numerous people missing those old sit down and listen habits. It’s nice to see them encouraging a new generation of vinyl collectors. Still, even though these new collectors have wide ranging interests, and even though vinyl and wax was pressed for well over a hundred years, it’s still this one 10 year period they tend to focus on the most when they talk about music that makes a turntable and Hi-Fi sound system worth the investment.
Sadly, I don’t think I truly remember what I was listening for in that music back in the day. It was certainly more than just musicianship and technical effort. I have vague memories of serious emotions that I don’t get anymore. Perhaps that is something one needs to be young and filled with wonder at the thought of a wider universe to feel. Perhaps I am not as poetic or romantic of mind as I was back then when I hung on every word and synched with every emotion or cosmic idea.
So, if those feelings are mainly for young people, then the music of those 10 years are the classical music of the young folks of today. And just like they might be told that Symphonic Classical Music is properly appreciated in a concert venue, the classical album music of those 10 years is properly appreciated coming off a slab of vinyl while comfortably seated in the midst of 4 towers of quality Hi-Fi speakers.
Yes, 4 towers. The rear speakers would pull the under sounds out of the vinyl that normal stereo would bury, and you would be completely immersed in a room filled with sound. To this day I am still hearing sounds on vinyl that I don’t ever remember noticing before, because different sound systems have different electronic configurations.
So, yeah, I would hope that there would be a new nostalgia craze, and the children of the future would all go gaga for getting into that 70’s listening experience. Who knows what a good thing that might be for their thought processes? It might eventually make for a kinder, more enlightened world.
Slow life down to 33 and a third. Going through life at the speed of a computer disc can’t be very good for the nerves. It certainly has wrecked mine.
An album on vinyl is like a fine meal to be enjoyed and savored. Single tracks downloaded on to portable MP3 players are more like sticks of chewing gum – flavorful and handy when on the go, but having no real nutritional value for the soul.