Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Going the Way of the Dinosaur

Here’s yet another break from the bass action so I can throw some oil in your gears… and also I’m too lazy to start a new blog site!

I still refer to a collection of songs circulating around the thirty-five minute mark and numbering around a dozen- finely tuned without a weak spot; a “record” or an “album”. Yeah, I’m ancient, but I’m a creature of habit and I’m not about to change because digital media was dropped on the earth like a maelstrom of chaotic audio sensory overload. The marketing and consumption of music in all of its forms has long since been turned on its ear, and the sound the other ear is listening to is DIY indie artists emptying the cash register, music executives scooping up whatever loose change is left; and cries from A&R people in a free fall for a safety net that was never set up. There was simply no way to anticipate the complete upheaval a simple MP3 file would start.
                                                      Sucks to be you…

The ashen landscape left most ‘recording artists’ fighting for the scraps. Some of my favorite iconic bands growing up are now veiled in the dark corners, where the sunny exposure of the mainstream eludes them. They’re the people I care about because I remember a time that they mattered, and it’s all I wanted to be “when I grew up”!!

So where does that leave the listener- the wide eyed and hopeful neophyte, the music enthusiast who is pining for something to stretch their wallet and leave a pleasant musical aftertaste?  I don’t have an answer. And it’s not because I don’t have an opinion, I just don’t have the mind (or body) of a young person whose parents have an unlimited and endless flow of expendable green to co-pilot their musical journey. Ouch. That was a backhanded compliment, even if that’s not what I intended…

I want to re-evaluate how adults (you and me), who grew up with a savory view and fondness for entire records, cassettes or CD’s now look upon a media explosion and generation of “lazy listening” with disregard.  Take heed kids: I am talking to you as well!

There’s no surprises here- the shuffle on an iPod or MP3 player will leave most people lazily and haphazardly “scanning” through to their favorite tracks and relentlessly abusing the shorter, catchier songs, while longer, more developed tracks get the boot.

If you’re a scanner, then you're probably skipping over all the meat here! Go back and read!!
                                               I do this because I love ya!!
                                                Peter… please, pay attention.

Walking to school every day afforded me the luxury of blasting Garage Days Revisited or Black Flag on my Sony Walkman as I shuffled to High School. What I wasn’t afforded was a ‘shuffle’ option or the blank reasoning behind hurrying through to “Last Caress”, or flipping to side two of “My War” so I could hear Bill Stevenson’s characteristic bass drum throb and propel track 2, side two. Damn, it would have taken me five minutes just to cue it up! That song is only 6 & ½ minutes long!

Artists and performers wrote songs for themselves and with the listener or established ‘fan’ in my mind, with little thought of how it would be marketed and distributed. Even Ben & Jerry knew there was a ton of other ice cream companies! They used unique flavor combinations, quirky labeling and quality ingredients. Records weren’t built with emulsifiers and filler either- they had a strong foundation from the epic (and sometimes short & intense) opening track to the “single”, somewhere early on; album tracks (the meat of the album) and the closer which often gave you the cathartic release that the opener hinted at. 

I often reference The Deftones “White Pony” or Muse’s “The Resistance”. As current as “Resistance” is, there is no doubt that the boys in Muse grew up listening to Queen’s “Night at the Opera” and T. Rex’s “Electric Warrior” in their entirety, without lifting the needle once...

My 16 year old nephew has given me a glimpse into the young, burgeoning music listener. Maybe not as avid for change and occasionally, influenced by peers, he’s not that far removed from me at his age. But he’s never known the beauty of going to a Record Store (Tower Records, anyone??) with a ten spot, walking out holding a copy of Iron Maiden’s ‘Piece of Mind’ and then spending an afternoon sprawled out on the basement floor while demolishing an old pair of Fisher speakers and god knows what kind of turntable. Reading each printed lyric word for word, exhausting the last seconds of each track in preparation for the next; the crackle from the needle and the imperfections apparent in the occasional ripples or skips during “The Trooper”. The satisfaction of these kinds of experiences won’t ever be felt by my nephew and maybe there is less appreciation of music in general. No, there’s no doubt in my mind that teens, tweens (wtf?) and youths of all varieties in all parts of the world will miss out on the subtle distraction of making music a centerpiece- not just background noise while they text friends.

                                        There is something lost with progress.

                              I have no regrets!!! Ok, I wish I had listened to all of Yes’s 
                              Fragile, not just “Roundabout”!!

Next write-up I will reconvene with the bass-tastic goodness I started, and yet another player you may have snoozed through. I’m here for you. See you then!


  1. This same kind of appreciation for "simple things" that had us feeling truly alive growing up (whether we knew it or not) is exactly why I just spent the last hour skateboarding in my garage! I remember feeling this way (vividly) because I (too) choose to keep it going even now with many things just as simple and pleasurable - even if others don't yet understand how a 40 year old man can be so happy doing such things! Thanks for keeping this spirit alive!

  2. The dinosaurs loved chomping on smaller dinosaurs. Mmmm good..

    That has nothing to with anything, but why not get out the old boombox and slap come D batteries in it!!! Rock out some of those old Cure and Beastie Boys tapes we loved! We'll never be too old for that.

  3. Agreed... "Never too old!"